A recent survey of landlords by business insurers, Direct Line, suggests nearly half welcome the UK Government’s new Model Tenancy Agreement which allows pets in rental properties.

This may be down to a lack of knowledge about what the new agreement means. To help landlords understand the changes, we have outlined the main changes announced in January 2021 to the model tenancy agreement to enable tenants with ‘well-behaved pets’ to secure a tenancy more easily.

What the changes mean

Previously landlords using the agreement were able to issue blanket bans on pets in their properties, under the new agreement, landlords now must seek consent for pets as the default position and will have to object in writing within 28 days of a written pet request from a tenant and supply a good reason.

The key change only allows the banning of pets where there is a good reason (such as large pets in smaller properties or flats, or other properties where having a pet could be impractical). The revision encourages landlords to be more open to pet-owning tenants but will not be made to accept a pet if they do not want to, therefore giving landlords the final say. Tenants will also continue to have a legal duty to repair or cover the cost of any damage to the property.

Activity in Parliament – the Ten-Minute Rule Bill

On the wider issue of pets in rented accommodation, last year Andrew Rosindell MP introduced a Ten-Minute Rule Bill (Private Members’ Bill) entitled the Dogs and Domestic Animals (Accommodation and Protection) Bill.

The Bill proposes that pet owners pass a test of responsible ownership by obtaining a certificate from a vet before moving in, confirming that they have a healthy, well-behaved animal and are responsible owners. For instance, for a dog, a responsible ownership checklist would include being vaccinated and microchipped and being responsive to basic training commands, with appropriate rules applying to other animals.

Furthermore, microchipping is a key element of the Bill, which will stipulate that all cats and dogs kept in rented accommodation must be microchipped. Part of the approval process for a pet to be moved into accommodation would be to have their microchip scanned by a vet to ensure that they were registered on a national database. It is, in effect, pet referencing!

Forward thinking renovations

When your rental property is due for renovation or refurbishment, why not make a change from materials which are not as pet friendly to those which will give more longevity between refreshing if you are going to allow pets on your tenancy?

  • Vinyl flooring or vinyl tiles are popular options for pet owners as they are cost-effective and highly durable.
  • Tiles work well with pets as they won’t show scratches easily and allow for spills and accidents to be cleaned up without any problems. If your budget stretches, you could install underfloor heating or provide rugs in the living area.
  • Carpets are usually not an ideal choice for pets rentals as they can damage, they show stains and harbour odours. Maybe consider only laying carpets in bedrooms where pet access is limited.

Protection of your asset is paramount to being a successful landlord, but so is protecting your income.  In our opinion your income is very dependent on you having a happy tenant, and hopefully a long-term tenant.  Allowing pets might help encourage a longer-term tenant and reduce re-let costs so shouldn’t automatically be discounted.

For more information or advice on renting a pet friendly home please contact the team on 01904 393989.

Written 28thApril 2021