Renting with pets – a guide for landlords

Pet dog at home

Whether to allow tenants to keep pets has long been a hairy issue for landlords. 

On the one hand, tenants with pets could be happier and more likely to stay for longer. On the other, some pets come with an increased risk of property damage. 

And despite being a nation of pet lovers, with 40 per cent of UK households owning a pet, the number of pet-friendly properties appears to be low. 

According to government figures, just seven per cent of landlords advertised a property allowing pets in 2021. However, a Simply Business survey of 1,500 landlords in 2023 found that more than a quarter (28 per cent) already accept pets in their properties. 

In recent years, the government has announced several plans to make it easier for tenants to keep pets. Read on to find out about the current laws on pet ownership, what could change in the future, and tips for allowing pets. 

Renting with pets – what is the law?

At the moment, tenancy law doesn’t include a lot of information about pets. 

The law doesn’t require landlords to accept pets in rental properties and there’s nothing to stop landlords from including a ban on pets in their tenancy agreement. 

However, the government has made it clear that landlords should consider all requests for pets, whether they accept them or not. 

Can landlords refuse pets in their rental property?

While landlords can make it clear that they don’t accept pets, The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has stated that tenancy agreements that include a blanket ban on pets may not stand up in court. 

Whether or not the tenancy agreement includes a ban on pets, landlords can reject a request from a tenant to keep one. 

Updates to the government’s model tenancy agreement

As part of its plan to encourage more landlords to offer pet-friendly properties, the government updated its model tenancy agreement in 2021. 

The changes to the model tenancy agreement require tenants to ask for written consent from their landlord. 

The landlord must respond to the tenant within 28 days and if they reject the request, they must have a ‘good reason’.

It’s important to note that it’s not mandatory for landlords to use the government’s model tenancy agreement.

Rental reforms changes delayed for now

Encouraging pet ownership was a central part of the government’s Renters’ Reform Bill, which failed to make it through parliament before the general election was called in May 2024.

The plans set out in the bill were similar to those in the updated model tenancy agreement, but with a view to making them mandatory. Landlords would need to have a good reason not to accept a pet in their property and they wouldn’t be able to ban them outright. 

We asked landlords about how changes to pet rules could impact the rental market. Here’s what they had to say: 

  • 54 per cent were concerned about the increased risk of property damage
  • 63 per cent thought landlords would increase rent to cover the higher risk of property damage
  • 31 per cent thought landlords who don’t want to accept pets would sell up and leave the market
  • 53 per cent thought landlords would need to do more inspections and tighten up their tenancy contracts

Although the Renters’ Reform Bill was shelved before the election, plans to make it easier for tenants to keep pets could return later this year.

Can landlords charge higher deposits for tenants with pets?

The reason many landlords don’t accept pets is due to the increased risk of property damage caused by animals. 

One way that landlords who do accept pets get around this issue is by charging a higher deposit, which can be deducted at the end of a tenancy if required. 

However, it’s important to note that since 2019, deposits have been capped at five weeks’ rent. This means in many cases the deposit may not be high enough to cover pet damage. 

An alternative solution is to charge a higher ‘pet rent’ to remain compliant with the Tenant Fees Act. However, it’s a tricky balance to strike as higher rents could discourage tenants from making an offer. 

What happens if a tenant keeps a pet without permission?

If your tenant is keeping a pet without your permission or they have a pet which is damaging the property or causing problems for neighbours, it’s likely they’ll be breaking their tenancy agreement. This means you may be able to evict them using a Section 8 notice

However, eviction should always be a last resort so it’s worth speaking to the tenant first to try and find a solution. You may be able to claim the costs from any damage caused by an unauthorised pet from the deposit at the end of the tenancy.

What if a tenant needs an assistant or support animal?

If a tenant requires an assistance animal such as a guide dog, the landlord is expected to make a ‘reasonable adjustment’ to allow them. 

If they don’t, this could be deemed as discriminatory behaviour that goes against the requirements of the Equality Act 2010.

Landlords and pets – what are the pros and cons?

Although some landlords are against pets, others are happy for their tenants to keep animals.

Below are some of the reasons why landlords could be for or against pets in lets.

Advantages of allowing pets

A higher number of potential tenants – with just seven per cent of landlords advertising pet-friendly properties in 2021, there’s clearly a gap in the market for landlords who accept pets. A wider pool of tenants gives you more choice on who rents your property and a higher chance of letting it quickly

Happier tenants and longer tenancies – being able to keep a pet is likely to improve a tenant’s happiness. The happier the tenant, the longer they’re likely to stay in your property. This means more stability and lower overheads for the landlord

A better relationship with tenants – if your tenants know you trust them to keep a pet, this could improve your relationship. As a result, they could be more likely to look after your property and alert you to problems quickly 

Opportunity for increased returns – again, with only a small number of landlords accepting pets, tenants may be willing to pay more to secure a pet-friendly property. A higher rental price could put your mind at ease that you’re covered for the increased risk of property damage

Disadvantages of allowing pets

Property damage – the main concern for most landlords about accepting pets is that they’ll cause damage to the property which will cost money to fix

Odours and hair – whether it’s scratch marks, stains, or nasty smells, pets can have a long-term impact on a property. A landlord may have to organise extra cleaning when the tenancy ends and future tenants could be put off by the previous presence of animals

Allergies – the long lasting impact of pets in rental properties, such as difficult to remove hair, means that future tenants with a pet allergy could be affected

Noise complaints – animals can be noisy and anti-social, which could lead to complaints or disputes with neighbours that the landlord has to deal with

3 tips for allowing pets in your property

Landlords will still be able to deny pet requests if they have a good reason, but potential rental reforms could make it much easier for tenants to keep pets in the future.

With this in mind, it could be beneficial to think about the steps you can take to allow pets while minimising the risk to your property.

As well as getting comprehensive pet damage insurance to cover your property against pet damage, here are three things you could do:

  1. If possible, arrange to meet the pet before accepting the request. This could help to put your mind at ease that the pet is friendly and well-behaved.
  2. Draft some pet rules for the property, and go through them carefully with your tenant.
  3. Regular property inspections can help you to spot any damage early and make sure your tenant and their pet are following the rules you set out.

What is your experience of pets in rental properties? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo: Evrymmnt/

Get set with tailored landlord cover?

Over 200,000 UK landlord policies, a 9/10 customer rating and claims handled by an award-winning team. Looking to switch or start a new policy? Run a quick landlord insurance quote today.

Conor Shilling

Conor Shilling is a professional writer with over 10 years’ experience across the property, small business, and insurance sectors. A trained journalist, Conor’s previous experience includes writing for several leading online property trade publications. Conor has worked at Simply Business as a Copywriter for three years, specialising in the buy-to-let market, landlords, and small business finance.

This block is configured using JavaScript. A preview is not available in the editor.