Author : Mitch Hammond
Relinquishing a pet is a painful decision as cats and dogs are considered family members due to the emotional attachment. Because the cost of living continues to rise, many tenants find it hard to maintain their pets. This causes issues when a tenant has to downsize or vacate due to the increase in their rent. Therefore, tenants that struggle to find pet-friendly properties may be forced to give up on their pets.
Most landlords prohibit pets
Unfortunately, the increase in the number of tenants giving up their pets proves that housing is the common reason for tenants abandoning their pets. Many animal welfare organisations are overwhelmed with a historic number of pet owners unable to support pets with the rising cost of living. Close to ten percent of these requests are from tenants facing opposition from their landlords to have pets on their properties. The percentage of landlords who allow pets is negligible, as properties listed as pet-friendly contribute a meager seven percent.
Knowing the legal angle
The existing regulations permit landlords to disallow pets on their properties, leaving tenants with no protection for their pets. However, the revision of the Model Tenancy Agreement removed the blanket ban on pets from the standard template permitting reasonable restrictions on pets. The most plausible reason for banning pets is the possible damage that may be caused throughout the duration of the tenancy. However, at this point in time, landlords have no legal obligation to use the new tenancy agreement. With the rise in demand for pet-friendly properties, tenants are expecting legislation with pet-friendly policies to be amended in the upcoming Renters Reform bill. The following measures of the bill are worth noting:
• Tenants can challenge the landlord's no-pets decision if they find it unjust. Landlords should get an exemption certificate if they want to prohibit pets. The grounds can be medical, religious, or incompatible with the property.
• A registered vet should provide a responsible guardianship certificate to the tenant.
The steep drop in pet-friendly properties may be because of the Tenant Fees Act, which has heavily impacted the landlord's ability to secure them financially from problem tenants. The cap on tenancy deposit is inadequate to cover repair costs besides rent arrears. Furthermore, landlords are left without the option to ask for an extra pet deposit to allow tenants to keep pets alongside the existing tenants.
The new model tenancy agreement provides some respite to renters who own pets. Landlords can express their views within 28 days after the tenant requests to rent the property with pets. The reply should provide justifiable reasoning if the landlord objects to the pets on their property. Several animal welfare organizations want the government to end the blanket no-pets policy through legislation.
Searching for a pet-friendly property
Locating a pet-friendly property is tough, as very few listings are available for such properties. Renters should begin a search for pet-friendly properties at least ninety days in advance. Creating a detailed Pet-CV to establish yourself as a responsible pet owner is crucial. It will help you provide evidence to agents or landlords who may allow pets despite listing the property as not allowing pets. It is advised to enquire whether such landlords are ready to become flexible on their conditions for a responsible pet owner. Providing a vet's certificate about your responsible behavior and other records can install confidence in the potential landlord.
Meanwhile, renters in the UK who want to continue their pet ownership throughout their rental journey can expect new legislation after the discussion on the June 16 whitepaper in 2023. The legislation will mandate landlords provide a proper reason to prohibit pet ownership on a property.
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