January 28th 2021 saw the government publish their amended tenancy agreement.
Under the section entitled “tenants’ obligations,” this new model tenancy agreement has an additional clause in relation to pets.
The government say that only 7% of private landlords advertise that their properties are pet friendly, which has meant that those with pets, either struggle to find suitable homes or have had to give up their pets entirely.
With a slant towards pro pet ownership, consent to allow pets will be the standard position, and landlords will need to object in writing, within 28 days of a request by their tenant and provide good reason. Objections could be in relation to the size of the rental property, or within a high rise flat where the housing of an animal could be impractical. The government have stressed that the landlords must be protected, in the sense that tenants will have the legal obligation, to repair and cover the cost of any damage created by their animals in the property.
Housing Minister Chris Pincher announced:
“We are a nation of animal lovers, and over the last year more people than ever before have welcomed pets into their lives and homes”.
“But it can’t be right that only a tiny fraction of landlords advertise pet friendly properties, and in some cases, people have had to give up their beloved pets in order to find somewhere to live”.
“Through the changes to the tenancy agreement we are making today, we are bringing an end to the unfair blanket ban on pets introduced by some landlords.
“This strikes the right balance between helping more people find a home that’s right for them and their pet, while ensuring landlords’ properties are safeguarded against inappropriate or badly behaved pets.”
The response to the announcement has been very mixed, considering the problems the government are piling onto landlords over this difficult period. It is firstly worth noting that this tenancy contract does not need to be used, and therefore this is not a legally binding clause that has to be inserted into every contract.
The National Residential Landlords Association released a statement saying
“We recognise the importance of pets in providing companionship especially to those living on their own. However, pets are not always suitable in certain properties such as large dogs in small flats without gardens. There is often more a risk of damage to a property where there is a pet” says the association.
“We call on the government to enable the level at which deposits are set to be more flexible to reflect this greater risk” it continues.
“We are also calling for a tenant to either have pet insurance or to pay the landlord for it to be allowed as a requirement for a tenancy where relevant. At present payments such as this are banned under the Tenant Fees Act.”
The new model tenancy contract can be seen here.