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Landlords: paws for thought in 2023

over 1 year ago
Landlords: paws for thought in 2023

We are known for being a nation of animal lovers and the most recent research confirms this. A survey conducted by YouGov and the PDSA found 52% of UK adults owned a pet. There are now an estimated 10.2 million domestic dogs and 11.1 domestic million cats in the UK – that’s more than a million four-legged friends in 2022 when compared to 2021.

A large number of pet owners will also be tenants, who are often made to choose between a pet or a property. Many people think this is unfair and this year could see the Government make the biggest change to lets with pets for a generation. Here we look at the current and future relationship between people, pets and rented property.

Q. Do tenants value pets?
A. Yes – so much so that they’re willing to move home to keep living with their four-legged or feathered friends. The Deposit Protection Service established that among renters who moved property between October 2021 and March 2022, 30% said they found a new rental home specifically to accommodate a pet.

Q. Are there many pet-friendly properties in the rental sector?
A. At the moment, no. Government figures from 2021 suggested just 7% of private landlords advertise pet friendly properties, while the most recent English Private Landlord Survey 2021 revealed 45% of landlords were unwilling to let to tenants with pets. As a result, just 38.6% of tenants were able to keep a pet in their rental property, according to a 2022 survey by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme Charitable Foundation.

Q. What’s the current Government stance on pets in rented homes?
A. The Government took its first step to make lets with pets easier in 2021 by changing its Model Tenancy Agreement. The new wording prohibited a blanket ban on pets in rented properties, making consent for pets its default position. Instead, it’s up to the landlord to object, in writing, within 28 days of a written pet request from a tenant. Landlords also need to provide a good reason for refusal.

This alteration was seen as a ‘soft’ step, however, as the Government’s Model Tenancy Agreement isn’t compulsory. Landlords and their letting agents are still allowed to use their own tenancy agreements with ‘no pet’ clauses included.

Q. Will renting with a pet be made easier in 2023?
A. Quite possibly. The Government is hoping its Fairer Private Rented Sector white paper will be implemented by the end of 2023. New legislation contained within this document will make it much harder for landlords to reuse tenants who have pets. Tenants would also gain the right to challenge a landlord’s decision to turn down a request to rent with a domestic animal.

Q. What about damage caused to my property by pets?
A. The white paper acknowledges that if it becomes easier for tenants to rent with pets, there should be some recompense for landlords. As such, there would be a change to the Tenant Fees Act 2019 that would allow landlords to charge a tenant for pet insurance, with any pet damage covered by the policy.

If you would like more clarification concerning the Fairer Private Rented Sector white paper and how it may affect your buy-to-let, please get in touch.

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