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Do landlords have to accept tenants with pets?

2-minute read

Mollie Millman

16 February 2021

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A new model tenancy agreement has been published by the government as part of its bid to encourage landlords to accept tenants with pets.

The move was announced a year ago, but the template tenancy agreement has only now been published and is ready to use.

It comes amid an increase in pet owners as the country deals with the coronavirus pandemic and a mental health crisis.

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New model tenancy agreement

The government tenancy contract template can be used as the basis of agreements made with tenants – such as shorthold assured tenancies.

However, landlords are not compelled to use it, and are only encouraged to use it as a guideline to best practice.

Responsible tenants with pets

The main change in the government’s template tenancy agreement is the removal of restrictions on tenants with pets.

It’s aimed at getting landlords to be more flexible in their approach to tenants who own pets.

The template agreement states that a private landlord should accept a request from a tenant to keep pets where they are satisfied the tenant is a responsible pet owner.

In addition, it states that the pet needs to be suitable in relation to the premises where it will be kept.

It means that a pet can still be banned for a good reason, such as keeping a large dog in a small flat, which would be impractical.

Protecting landlords from damage

As few as 7 per cent of landlords are believed to advertise their properties as suitable for pets.

The government said that it hopes the change will help to ‘strike a balance’ between protecting private landlords from situations where their properties are damaged by badly behaved pets while ensuring responsible pet owning tenants are not unfairly penalized.

Housing minister Christopher Pincher said: “We are a nation of animal lovers and over the last year more people than ever before have welcomed pets into their lives and homes.

“But it can’t be right that only a tiny fraction of landlords advertise pet friendly properties, and in some cases people have had to give up their beloved pets in order to find somewhere to live.

“Through the changes to the tenancy agreement, we are bringing an end to the unfair blanket ban on pets introduced by some landlords.

“This strikes the right balance between helping more people find a home that’s right for them and their pet, while ensuring landlords’ properties are safeguarded against inappropriate or badly behaved pets.”

How do you feel about the new guidelines? Let us know in the comments.

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