If recently announced proposals about pets in rental properties soon become law, pet-loving renters will no longer have to worry about being able to bring a furry friend into their new home.
New government proposals shared last week announced that landlords of buy-to-let properties should no longer be able place a blanket ban on tenants being allowed pets, as part of the new Renters Reform Bill.
In what is being deemed the biggest reform to renting rights in decades, the proposals state that people must now have a legal right to have a pet in a rental home, if they want to.
However, there are various caveats to the proposed law, which are important to note if you’re keen to host a pet pooch or cat in your rented flat or house. Below, we’ve answered all of your questions about renting with a pet, to ensure you’re well aware of your rights.
Do I need to ask for my landlord’s permission to have a pet?
Yes – even though the proposal (if it goes ahead, and becomes enshrined into law) means your landlord can’t legally refuse you a pet, it is still necessary to get your landlord’s permission if you’d like to bring one into your home, as it is if you’d like to change almost anything in a rental.
This is especially the case if you are already renting a property, but is also essential if you are newly looking to rent a home.
What do I need to do to rent a property with a pet?
While the new proposal states that legally, a landlord should no longer be able to outright refuse you a pet, there are a few hoops to jump through in order to have your furry friend living with you.
Previously, landlords could increase tenancy deposits if you wanted a pet, to account for any potential damage caused. However, the Tenant Fee Ban of 2019 meant that this was no longer an option, meaning that some landlords simply placed an all-out ban on pets in their properties.
Now, in order to cover the risk of potential damage to a property that a fiesty dog or cat (or hamster, or bird) may cause, landlords will likely be within their rights to request that tenants obtain pet insurance, in order to cover any damages.
Oli Sherlock, director of insurance at RentTech company, Goodlord (opens in new tab), said, ‘One thing that is specifically mentioned is that landlords may be able to demand that tenants own pet insurance, so that any damage to their property is covered. This is one additional cost that renters may need to prepare for in future.’
Jonathan Rolande, from the National Association of Property Buyers (opens in new tab), also stated that, ‘The 5 week deposit might also be at risk if the pet damages the property or there are fleas discovered. Therefore, a good inventory is essential when a tenant moves in.’
Is there any way my landlord can refuse me having a pet?
Although the new bill means that landlords cannot blanket refuse tenants the chance to own a pet, it doesn’t mean that those in recent accommodation have a total and complete right to have one.
Oli Sherlock explained, ‘When it comes to the new proposal, it’s hard to say exactly how or why a landlord could refuse. According to the whitepaper, the government will “legislate to ensure landlords do not unreasonably withhold their consent” to allow pets.
‘The word ‘unreasonably’ leaves a lot of room for interpretation though, and doesn’t necessarily guarantee that a pet will always be allowed. As this proposal changes into law, someone will need to work out what does and doesn’t count as a ‘reasonable’ refusal though.’
Jonathan Rolande explained that some reasons could include: ‘if the pet was deemed unsuitable for the property due to size or noise, or if the head lease (in a block of flats) prevents it. Details are yet to be clarified by government though.’
What can I do if my landlord still says no to me keeping a pet?
If you are currently renting a property and have requested a pet, your landlord must object (in writing) within 28 reasons, and as mentioned, must provide a ‘good reason’ why they are refusing your request.
It’s not yet clear though what the legal path would be for a tenant whose landlord was not granting permission for a reasonable request. If you experience this problem when and if the proposal becomes law, it may be well worth contacting the Citizens Advice Bureau (opens in new tab), who can give provide support and advice on such issues.