Responsible renters with well-behaved pets to secure leases more easily through Government’s new tenancy agreement.

A new standard tenancy agreement introduced by the government will make it easier for tenants with pets to find rented accommodation.

Under the new Model Tenancy Agreement agreed last week, responsible tenants with well-behaved pets will be able to secure leases more easily, as consent for pets will now be the default position.

The Model Tenancy Agreement is the government’s recommended contract for landlords.

With figures showing that more than half of adults in the UK own a pet and many more are welcoming pets into their lives during the pandemic, these changes mean more landlords will cater for responsible pet owners.

What are the current rules for renting with pets? 

With few private landlords currently advertising pet friendly properties (only 7%), many people with pets have struggled to find suitable homes. In some cases, this has meant they have had to give up their pets altogether.

Landlords have been able to issue a blanket ban on pets, inserting clauses into their tenancy agreements to state that renters cannot keep them.

If a pet is allowed, the landlord may also put in additional clauses to the tenancy agreement related to owning a pet, such as making sure it doesn’t foul in the garden or inside the property, not leaving it alone in the property for too long and cleaning the property thoroughly before the end of the tenancy.

Any damage to the property or extra cleaning that needs to be undertaken should be dealt with by the tenant. If it isn’t, the landlord may deduct these costs from the tenant’s deposit at the end of the tenancy.

Will the new Model Tenancy Agreement make it easier to rent with pets?

The new tenancy agreement isn’t legally-binding, but the government hopes landlords will adopt it. Through these changes, landlords will no longer be able to issue a blanket ban on pets.

If the landlord objects to the tenant having a pet, that rejection should only be made where there is good reason, such as in smaller properties or flats where owning a pet could be impractical. It should also be given in writing, within 28 days of a written pet request from a tenant.

To ensure landlords are protected, tenants will continue to have a legal duty to repair or cover the cost of any damage to the property.

A responsible pet owner will be aware of their responsibilities in making best efforts to ensure their pet does not cause a nuisance to neighbouring households or undue damage to the property.

Landlords will be prohibited from charging a fee to a tenant who wishes to keep pets or other animals at the property. However, permission may be given on the condition that the tenant pays an additional reasonable amount towards the deposit (as long as this doesn’t breach the deposit cap requirements under the Tenant Fees Act 2019).

Housing Minister Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP said: “We are a nation of animal lovers and over the last year more people than ever before have welcomed pets into their lives and homes.

“But it can’t be right that only a tiny fraction of landlords advertise pet friendly properties and in some cases people have had to give up their beloved pets in order to find somewhere to live.

“Through the changes to the tenancy agreement we are making today, we are bringing an end to the unfair blanket ban on pets introduced by some landlords. This strikes the right balance between helping more people find a home that’s right for them and their pet while ensuring landlords’ properties are safeguarded against inappropriate or badly behaved pets.”