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Big questions still need answering over 'pet renting rights', senior figure warns

pet renting reform timothy douglas propertymark

A senior property figure has both welcomed this week's Government announcement that guidance is imminent on how the pets element of its looming renting reforms will work but warned several problem areas need clearing up.

Timothy Douglas (main picture), who is Head of Policy and Campaigns at Propertymark, says although any direction on pets prior to the Renters'� Reform Bill entering parliament is good, 'there are several areas where it's not clear how this will all work,'� he tells LandlordZONE.

Once the law is enacted, Douglas says landlords renting a property will most likely have to advertise them as '�pets will considered if suitable'� and then work with their agent, or directly with any prospective tenants, to see if the home is suitable for a dog or cat.

'For example, a tenant with a big dog wanting to rent a small apartment with no garden may not be suitable,'� he adds.

Problems could arise because despite this the legislation will give tenants the legal right to request a pet and if turned down, challenge the decision.

Blanket bans

'The key thing here is that landlords and agents will no longer be able to operate blanket bans but equally the government needs to clarify what '�cannot unreasonably refuse'� means,'� he adds.

"I think it will be policed via a mediation/early solution element of the proposed landlord ombudsman also due within the renting reform legislation.'�

The government is also considering a change to the Tenant Fees Act to enable landlords and agents to either request that a pet-owning tenant takes out damage insurance or pays the landlords a bigger deposit to provide cover for them.

'This also needs to be ironed out '� what happens if there'�s damage but the tenant has taken out insurance for month one of a tenancy but then cancels it,'� ponders Douglas.

'There will be exemptions such as those with assistance animals such as guide dogs, but we also need guidance on how any pet referencing will work and whether dogs will be allowed on viewings.

'And agents are going to have to have discussions with their landlords after the Bill becomes law because they will no longer be able to operate a blanket ban on pets - their refusal will have to be thought through and reasoned, focusing on suitability.'�

Read more: The complete guide to accidental damage for landlords.


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