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Can Landlords Refuse Pets?

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More than half the UK population owns a pet, so it’s safe to say that a significant proportion of renters want to move into a new place with their furry friends. Historically, renting with pets has been difficult for renters, with landlords wary about potential damage to their homes from animals. Not all to surprising, as a recent survey by Propertymark has revealed that 85.3% of landlords and agents have incurred damage to their property by pets. So, can landlords refuse pets?

Recently announced proposals have underlined the need for renters to find a place to rent with their pets without facing significant roadblocks. Here, we look at renting with pets, why a landlord would refuse pets and what it means for you. 

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What are the current laws regarding renting with pets?

Currently, landlords can refuse pets in their property, which limits the homes available for tenants with animals. But a recent study by Propertymark revealed that 57% of landlords and agents were unable to recoup the costs of pet damage. With many landlords unable to recover damage caused by pets, it is no surprise that landlords generally prefer to let to tenants without pets. However, this could all be about to change due to the Renter’s Reform Bill. 

What is the renter’s reform bill?

The Renter’s Reform Bill details the UK Government’s plans to reform the private rented sector. Within it are many topics, such as abolishing Section 21 and periodic tenancies becoming standard. It also includes support for renting with pets and how it can be easier for tenants to move home with their animals. 

New rules for renting with pets

In 2021, landlords advertised only 7% of properties as ‘pet-friendly’. And one in five pet owners said they considered giving up their pet to find suitable accommodation. Renting with a pet has been historically tricky for renters trying to navigate the rental market. 

The Renter’s Reform Bill plans to change that, and it announced that landlords of buy-to-let properties would no longer be able to place a blanket ban on allowing tenants with pets. It means pet-loving renters should be able to find a home for themselves and their pets.

The UK Government has proposed it will amend the Tenant Fees Act 2019 so that landlords can request that their tenants buy pet damage insurance. If the UK Government is to increase the supply of pet-friendly homes, then it is vital that landlords and agents have confidence in the fact that they can recover the cost of repairs.

Do I still need to ask permission to have a pet?

Even though the Renter’s Reform Bill may make renting with a pet more straightforward, you will still need to notify the landlord that you intend to move in with your furry friend. The difference will be, if the rules are changed, is that the landlord won’t legally be able to refuse your pet from moving into the property with you. However, you still need their permission. 

It’s not quite as simple as just moving in with your pet, even though it looks as if the rules are likely to change. Essentially, the proposed legislation means landlords cannot ‘unreasonably withhold consent’ when a tenant requests to have their pet. So, if a landlord refuses a pet, the tenant could challenge the decision. 

Can I challenge a landlord’s decision? 

Landlords must provide good reasons why you can’t have a pet in the property, so a landlord can refuse pets. If you disagree with the decision, you can challenge them – although it has not yet been revealed how this process will work in action.

What about higher deposits?

Previously, landlords could require larger deposits from tenants moving in with a pet. However, the Tenant Fee Ban of 2019 meant landlords could no longer charge more than five weeks’ worth of rent as a deposit, putting an end to higher deposits for tenants. 

Consequently, many landlords outright refused to allow pets in their properties. This has been mainly due to the costs incurred to repair their properties, that appeared because of the damage caused by pets.

One way to combat this is the introduction of mandatory pet insurance. As part of the changes, landlords can request that you have pet insurance to cover any damages they make to the property.

Certificate for pet owners

As well as making it easier to rent with pets, the Dogs and Domestic Animals Accommodation Protection Bill part of the reform encourages responsible renters and the protection and welfare of domestic animals. Along with providing tenants with the right to keep pets in their rental property, the bill proposes pet owners have a certificate of responsible animal guardianship. 

The plan is for certificates to be issued via a test that will require:

  • Microchipping (for dogs and cats)
  • De-worming and de-fleaing
  • Required vaccinations
  • Ability to respond to basic commands. 

Alternatively, landlords who hold a certificate of exemption can refuse pets living in their property.

This includes:

  • If the landlord has a religious or medical reasons not to come into contact with domestic animals.
  • The accommodation is unsuitable for the animal.

How to find a pet friendly rental

While there’s no specific date for when the bill passes, it has the potential to change the renting landscape for pet owning renters.

If you’re looking for a rental property you can rent with your pet, or if you’re a pet friendly landlord, Propertymark’s member letting agents can help you with find, or manage, pet-friendly property in your local area.

All Propertymark members are fully versed on the latest legislation and will be able to help and advise you.

Find your local Propertymark letting agent to find your pet friendly rental.

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Last Updated: November 22nd, 2023

Phil Spencer

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