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    6th September 2021

    Landlords and Politicians Back Calls for Change to Law to Help Make Renting Pet Friendly

    Leading parliamentarians have joined with members of the House of Lords and leading organisations representing the private landlord sector to call for a change to the Tennant Fees Act 2019 in order to make it easier for landlords to offer pet-friendly rental agreements.

    While changes to the New Model Tenancy Agreement in January making pet friendly contracts the standard, and Andrew Rosindell MP expressing his intention to campaign for the changes to become law, the push for further changes is receiving wide-spread and cross-party support.

    A reissue of a report from pet charity AdvoCATS titled ‘Heads for Tails!’ makes an argument for amendments to the Tenants Fees Act 2019 that would permit landlords to require pet insurance of tenants wishing to keep animals. The report states:

    Landlords are understandably nervous about proposals to ban blanket “no pets” clauses, without addressing some underlying financial anxieties. Although the vast majority of pets are well-behaved, and pose no risk to rented accommodation, as evidenced by Cats Protection’s Purrfect Landlords report which found that 83% of private landlords who allowed cats had never experienced any damage, there will always be horror stories of significant, costly damage done to accommodation which is difficult for the landlord to claim back without going through lengthy court proceedings.

    However, the overall impact of pet ownership in rented accommodation is almost certain to be a net benefit to landlords and tenants, as well as the local community.

    A thorough and well researched document, the report takes an even-handed look at the ways in which the rental market can be made more pet friendly without placing undue strain on the relationship between tenant and landlord.

    charts showing overall support for allowing rental pet insurance at 77%

    With the demand for pet friendly homes having increased by 120% in only a year, and with issues around pet ownership often the source of emotive and potentially damaging argument, the report – which has been made available to ministerial officials – provides more than just a list of issues, it provides solutions which are likely to be welcomed by tenants and landlords alike.

    In the foreword, written by Andrew Rosindell MP, the minister offers the following reasoning:

    Back in 2020 I became conscious of the enormous problems that renters were facing with regards to pet ownership. According to the UK Government, only 7% of landlords advertise their properties as suitable for pets and 55% have blanket “no pets”. For people without pets in rented accommodation, pet ownership is often little more than a dream.

    This is a deeply undesirable situation for all involved: for landlords, who miss out on excellent tenants; for tenants who face sometimes insurmountable obstacles to bringing their beloved pet into rented properties or else never acquire one at all; and for the pets who get abandoned, or are never adopted, and miss out on the loving home they deserve.

    I introduced a Private Members’ Bill to Parliament, Jasmine’s Law, which would have made pet-ownership a right, under certain conditions. It was unfortunately unsuccessful despite my best efforts and the best efforts of animal welfare organisations such as AdvoCATS.

    But as has now been made clear in Jen Berezai’s hugely important reissued report, /the first of which I also wrote the foreword to, part of the reason for this situation is not just a lack of legislation, it’s the presence of legislation.

    Pet ownership has long been established as a positive influence on physical and mental health outcomes, so the benefits to tenants are obvious. However, as past legislative changes have left some landlords feeling overlooked, this push – joined by Green Party Leader Caroline Lucas, Sir David Amess, Lib Dem Leader Ed Davies, Dame Meg Hillier as well as organisations advocating on behalf of both pets and landlords – represents the possibility of a mutually beneficial compromise.

    What the report suggests

    The key demand of the report is for the government to amend the Tenants Fees Act 2019 to allow landlords to require tenants to have pet insurance which covers property damage. AdvoCATS believes that by shifting the onus for protecting the property to the tenant will help to reassure landlords and overcome many objections that are stopping them offering their properties to tenants that already own or would like to own pets.

    What this means for Wirral landlords

    As things stand, nothing is required of landlords unless they use an unedited version of the New Model Tenancy, but the cross-party push should hopefully offer reluctant landlords some reassurance that, should pets become a right (as some activists are hoping), that there will be a way for them to protect their properties against damage.

    Want to discuss the latest legislative changes impacting the rental sector, or looking for a way to reduce the stress of managing a property portfolio? Contact Us today to see how our experts can help.

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