Belvoir advises on where landlords stand regarding changes to pets in private rental properties…

Are you a landlord who automatically says no to pets in their properties? Perhaps you are concerned that pets will cause damage, or annoy the neighbours, or generally create problems that you would prefer to avoid? If so, you are not alone, as according to research although 40% of UK households currently own pets, just 7% of private landlords advertise properties as pet-friendly. Political parties and leading animal charities are now uniting to rectify what they view as discrimination against responsible pet owners, but recent developments have caused some confusion for landlords with many concerned about whether or not they are now legally obliged to accept pets.

The answer is no – it is not yet a legal requirement for landlords to automatically accept pets, although moves are definitely underway to ensure that in the future this will become law. Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell has long been campaigning for the introduction of the Dogs and Domestic Animals (Accommodation and Protection) Bill, which successfully passed its first reading in parliament last year. Rossindell’s campaign is nicknamed ‘Jasmine’s Law’ after a Weimaraner dog in Rossindell’s constituency who had to be rehomed due to a ‘no pets’ clause in the owner’s tenancy agreement. The campaign has gained cross party support and the backing of key animal charities, who continue to work to make it a legal requirement.

On 28th January 2021 the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced changes to the Model Tenancy Agreement, to make it easier for tenants with well-behaved pets to secure rental accommodation. Whilst use of the agreement is voluntary, and professional agents such as Belvoir use their own legally compliant version, the Model Tenancy Agreement is certainly recommended as best practice for DIY landlords.

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According to the new Model Tenancy Agreement, tenants will be asked to undergo various checks to prove that they are responsible owners and their pets are well-trained. Landlords who have strong objections will still be able to make their views known, but they must do so in writing within 28 days of a written request from a tenant. Any objections must be considered reasonable, such as concerns over the animal’s welfare or the suitability of the pet for the type of accommodation.

Zoe Bywater, who owns Belvoir Bedford, has long been a supporter of the Dogs Trust Lets with Pets campaign, and encourages landlords with suitable properties to consider tenants with companion animals.

“It is not yet legislation, but as the Government has issued a new Model Tenancy Agreement; there is probably an expectation that it is best practice” she explains.

“In our experience at Belvoir Bedford we have not found that pets have caused problems in properties. We are no longer able to request an extra deposit or insurance to cover any potential damage done by pets, and if there is an increased rent to include pets in the rental agreement this must be made clear at the advertising stage. However, we are able to reassure landlords by providing a comprehensive professional inventory at the beginning and end of a tenancy, which can help to prevent any disputes. We also do our very best to match tenants to the right property, and encourage pet owners to provide a reference for the landlord to show that their pet is microchipped, treated for fleas and worms etc and is well trained, and that their welfare has been considered – for example they won’t be left unattended for more than four hours a day.

“I have always thought that landlords who automatically say ‘no pets’ are missing out on a huge section of the tenant market. Tenants with pets often tend to stay longer, valuing the property as their home, and doing their best to maintain the indoor and outdoor space really well. If a landlord has concerns, I recommend they talk to their agent, and also have a look on the Dogs Trust Lets with Pets website for further information on lets with pets. This is also an invaluable resource for tenants as well, with some fantastic practical advice to help them secure accommodation for themselves and their pets.”

Further information

The new Model Tenancy Agreement is published on the Government website and is available to landlords as a free download: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/model-agreement-for-a-shorthold-assured-tenancy

To find your nearest Belvoir office to receive free advice, visit: www.belvoir.co.uk

For more information visit: https://www.letswithpets.org.uk/

12 COMMENTS

  1. The article does not clarify the position of tennacy. Quite often Flat “owners” are actually long term leaseholders and if these then sublet their flats on short term tenancies they need to be aware of what is in their own lease. Our block of flats where the 20+ owners have a share in the freehold agreed not to allow dogs after trials in previous years proved unworkable and it was decided that the flats were never designed to accommodate dogs. All other pets have to undergo risk assessment and gain consent. If the flat leaseholder sublets and uses the model agreement for their tenants they could run into problems. Our long term leaseholders cannot have dogs for the same reason the short term tenants cannot. HOWEVER we,as the freeholders, do ensure there is no blanket ban on domestic pets.

  2. How can bad smelling carpets caused by pets be claimed against a deposit? There is no way to prove this on an inventory before or after tenancy & the deposit schemes will not believe a Landlord because there is no way of presenting this on their forms. So the Landlord will foot the bill. Belvoir fail to mention this in their article. Definately a consideration for any landlord thinking of using Belvoir.

  3. Thank you Belvoir! I don’t think it is fair all landlords are brushing all pet owners with the same brush! My carpet does not smell bad or of animal! My house is as clean as possible and my dog is very well trained. You forget – renters do not want their deposit in the landlords hands either! We do everything we can to not pay more to you! Must be hard being able to own your own property choosing who you rent to whereas us paupers who can’t afford to save a deposit due to the high rent prices! What a joke!

  4. As a private landlord and also a tenant with a dog, blanket bans shouldn’t be allowed. If Landlords actually met with their tenants, maybe they could form their own opinion based on fact and not beat the dog and the owner out of a property based purely on an assumption that a property will be not looked after. Most owners care for their pets as people do their children, but we don’t have bans on children in rented accommodation. Why are children considered less of a risk, they are capable of causing just as much damage and smells.

  5. Being a Landlord for nearly 30 years.I would say a badly behaved child with no guidance on how to respect a property is 10 times worse than a well behaved pet and owner.But saying that i still haven’t allowed pets in any of my properties!!

  6. How naive is the reply from Belvoir. As a dog lover, who sits on the board of a Dog Charity and runs my own UK Charity for Dogs, I have nothing against Dogs in properties at all and totally understand the mental and emotional support they can provide, however, sadly even with the best reassurances and references in the world, it is the owners who are not always honest or responsible. I had over £8,000 worth of damage in one of my properties and yes, we have always met every tenant, visited regularly and couldn’t get access, when we eventually gained access, we found a place of devastation, garden totally disgusting, Floor tiles chewed along with many carpets and stairs under the carpets! door frames etc… it went on. Not only cost of damage to property, but also loss of income until we were able to get it habitable again for new tenants. I have still allowed tenants on two separate occasions to have dogs, utilising the Dogs Trust agreement, but sadly it has again caused time and additional work, as damage was caused. If a government would allow additional compensation to be claimed for any damage caused and subsequent loss of income, then fine, I’d do it, but that will not be the case as they have already reduced the deposit allowed by landlords to be held legally and securely for Tenants and additional deposits to cover Pet House cleaning are now not allowed. Landlords cannot afford to keep taking these hits of loss of income and still provide quality decent homes for people. They also have mortgages and bills to pay.

  7. Another article that completely misses the point that all a landlord wants is to reduce financial risk. Accepting pets would not be an issue if there was a solid process to recover costs if the tenancy goes wrong, but this just isn’t the case with the current legislation. I use a different branch of Belvoir and they are the model agency. Thankfully being a franchise model each branch runs as a standalone business, so I am very lucky to work with the branch I use.

  8. Whats happens if the dog bites a neighbour , who’s liable as private rentals are subject to HS act Risk assessements would be required would i be liable to install walls and fences to contain the animal or pens this is all getting stupid

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