For some homeowners, their pets are regarded as well-loved family members. So, it is understandable that they would prefer living in homes or properties that welcome pets and are pet-friendly. For families and individuals living in rented properties, however, bringing their beloved pets to their homes has always been a problem as only a measly 7% of England’s landlords have pet-friendly properties.
This was probably what the Government had in mind when it came up with an updated version of the Model Tenancy Agreement. The new version now includes consent for private rental tenants to keep their well-behaved pets in their rented homes. More specifically, the agreement prevents landlords from issuing a blanket ban on pets. Thus, tenants with well-behaved pets will now have an easier time securing leases.
The new Model Tenancy Agreement was introduced in January 2021 and mandates that landlords can object to the default consent for pets. However, they must do it in writing and within 28 days after their tenants submitted a written pet request. Additionally, landlords must be able to offer a valid reason for their objection.
The change is a solution to the problem thousands of tenants face when moving into suitable private rentals. Most of them have had to give up their pets because landlords did not allow them to bring the animals into the rented property. It’s a timely move as well, as figures indicate that over half of the adult population in the United Kingdom are pet owners. Additionally, the pandemic has added to the numbers as residents have been adopting pets into their homes and lives.
It is important to note, though, that only well-behaved pets would be allowed to stay with their owners in privately rented properties. Likewise, tenants will still be legally responsible for the repair or costs of any property damage, including those that are caused by their pets.
Christopher Pincher, the Housing Minister, said that England is a place for animal lovers, with more residents welcoming pets into their homes in the past years. As such, implementing the changes to the tenancy agreement is the right thing to do for renters who want to find good homes for themselves and their loved ones, while also ensuring their beloved pets can stay with them.
Although the contract template for consent for pets is not legally binding (i.e. voluntary), the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and the housing minister hope that landlords will seriously consider the change and adhere to it. Using the contract, according to RSPCA campaigners, is one of the best practices that landlords should adopt. Tenants who are responsible pet owners, they say, are some of the most ideal renters. Additionally, raising awareness about responsible pet ownership can also help encourage improvements in animal welfare.
Reactions from both parties
As expected, tenant rights groups are happy with the government’s move. They welcome the changes but also urge the Government to consider tenants who may not have the confidence to approach their landlords to inquire about pet consent.
According to them, landlords do not have the right to dictate on tenants’ lifestyle choices, so they should give strong valid reasons for banning pets. There should be tenancy reforms that can help tenants confidently, safely, and securely ask for pet consent.
For their part, landlords and letting agents are not happy with the changes, especially since they can no longer charge higher deposits on tenants with pets because of the Tenant Fees Act. According to the landlords, they do recognise the value of pets and the companionship they provide tenants, but not all properties are ideal for them. Large dogs, for example, should not be allowed in small flats.
Landlords and letting agents are asking the Government to adjust deposits to more flexible levels to help them address the risks of property damage for tenants with pets.
The deposits that landlords are talking about refer to tenancy deposits that renters are required to pay before they move into the property. Before the implementation of the Tenant Fees Act in June 2019, deposits had varying amount limits. After the Act was introduced, tenancy deposits were capped at five weeks’ worth of rent.
While landlords weren’t necessarily happy about the Act, they had to abide by it. The Tenant Fees Act was created to protect tenants from overcharging, which is a common practice among rogue landlords. It is one of the issues with most complaints, along with landlords who do not protect tenant deposits.
Your rights as a tenant
Aside from the new law allowing you to ask your landlords for consent for pets, it is also your right to file a complaint or claim against your landlord for overcharging and not protecting your deposit. If you work with a team of experienced solicitors who are experts in tenancy deposit protection claims, your chances of winning the claim are higher.
Choose a team of solicitors that offer a no-win-no-fee guarantee such as the ones at Tenancy Deposit Claims. Their solicitors are authorised and regulated by The Solicitors Regulation Authority. They are also highly experienced in tenancy deposit claims, so they know how to help you get back the money that your landlord owes you.