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The government tells landlords to accept tenants with pets

3-minute read

Mollie Millman

15 January 2020

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The government is planning on telling landlords to accept tenants with ‘well-behaved’ pets.

The Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, said that only seven per cent of landlords advertise homes as suitable for pets. As a result, the government said many pet owners are struggling to find the right home.

The government claims that some tenants have even been forced to give up their pets, as they haven’t been able to find a rented property that allows them.

So, as part of an overhaul of its templated tenancy contracts, the government wants to ensure that these tenants will no longer be overlooked.

What’s the government doing?

The government will be altering its tenancy contract template to remove restrictions on ‘well-behaved’ pets. Landlords can use this template as the basis of agreements made with tenants, including for shorthold assured tenancies.

However, it said that ‘total bans’ on tenants with pets could still be implemented if there’s 'good reason'.

It suggested that this could be in 'smaller properties or flats', for example, where owning a pet might be 'impractical'.

While the government suggests that landlords use the model template, they’re not obliged to and they don’t need to make changes for existing tenants.

A “mission to improve life for tenants”

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Pets bring a huge amount of joy and comfort to people’s lives, helping their owners through difficult times and improving their mental and physical wellbeing. So, it’s a shame that thousands of animal-loving tenants and their children can’t experience this because they rent their homes instead of owning property.

“So, I’m overhauling our model tenancy contract to encourage more landlords to consider opening their doors to responsible pet owners. And we will be listening to tenants and landlords to see what more we can do to tackle this issue in a way that is fair to both.

“This is part of this new Government’s mission to improve life for tenants, recognising that more are renting and for longer in life. We’ve already taken action, banning unfair letting fees and capping tenancy deposits, saving tenants across England at least £240million a year, and I will continue to take more steps to secure a better deal for renters up and down the country.”

A trend of reshaping tenant contracts

The government’s upcoming update to its model agreement isn’t without precedent. Housing association Silva Homes, which manages 7,400 rented, leasehold and shared ownership homes across the South East, has recently updated its pet policy to allow pets into most of its homes – providing they’re well-looked after and don’t cause a nuisance to others.

Silva Homes’ Dasos Christou said: "When people are looking for a new home, either to rent or buy through shared-ownership, the thought of not being able to have a pet, or even bring their current pet to their new home, can be extremely traumatic.

“We have reshaped our pet policy so that it works with, rather than against, the needs of our customers. As soon as it became clear that there was majority demand for a new pet policy, we began to plan how we could go about implementing the change.

“Now, every application for a pet will be looked at on its own merit and so long as there are no major issues which would impact on the animal or surrounding residents, we will happily give the go-ahead.”

Will you follow the government’s new template and allow tenants to keep pets? Do already allow tenants to have pets? Tell us your story in the comments below.

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