As you know we have covered the controversial subject of tenants with pets many times on our blog and in our monthly newsletter. It is still a question most first time landlords ask and is a subject that divides landlord opinion.
At the end of January the The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published their new standard tenancy contract which includes pet-friendly elements.
The new contract is designed for ‘responsible tenants in England with well-behaved pets’ in the hope that they will be able to secure leases more easily’
However this change only applies to landlords and letting agents who use the standard contract issued by the government. This contract is designed to act as a template and there is currently no change in the law that requires landlords to accept tenants with pets.
The new contract means that landlords will no longer be able to include clauses for a blanket ban on pets into the government standard contract . Instead consent for pets in the new government contract will be the default position, and agents or landlords will have to object in writing within 28 days of a written pet request from a tenant and provide a good reason for not permitting them to have a pet.
Under the new agreement, rejections should only be made where there is good reason, such as in smaller properties or flats where owning a pet could be impractical.
To ensure that landlords are protected, tenants will continue to have a legal duty to repair or cover the cost of any damage to the property.
However many landlords are still concerned about allowing pets into their rented properties.
Under the Tenant Fees Act, landlords and letting agents are no longer able to take a higher Deposit for tenants with pets but instead some have begun to set the rent of the tenancy at a higher level to cover any wear and tear that a pet may cause.
The benefits of allowing pets into a property include appealing to a wider range of tenants and there is some evidence to suggest that tenants with pets often stay in a property for longer, thereby reducing rental void periods. It has also been suggested that responsible pet owners feel more at home in a property with their pet and therefore they take good care of the property.
There are some potential downsides however, scratching or chewing damage caused by pets being the obvious one, with many landlords having concerns of long term and expensive problems such as flea infestations. It might also be difficult to assess at face value whether a pet is ‘well-behaved’, though some tenants can provide a reference for their pets from previous landlords.
Properties that have previously allowed pets might not appeal to pet allergy sufferers unless the property has undergone a deep clean to remove all pet hair etc.
So, whilst campaigners of more pet friendly rental homes have welcomed this step, at this moment in time, the Government hasn’t changed the law and therefore landlords still have the right to refuse tenants that have pets. Here at RF&O we would recommend that landlords consider requests for pets on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the nature of the property and the type or number of pets that the tenant has.
If you would like any further information or advice on the contents of this article please don’t hesitate to contact us