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Pets Allowed: Proposed Changes to the Model Tenancy Agreement

Animal-loving tenants could soon find it easier to track down pet-friendly property to rent.


Currently, only 7% of homes for rent welcome pets, leaving those who already own a furry friend or would love one to join their family with limited choice.


But that figure could soon be much higher if government proposals go ahead. A move that will allow more people to share their home with a precious pooch, fabulous feline or beloved budgie.


Understanding the Proposed Change


In an unexpected statement, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced plans to overhaul the government’s model tenancy agreement. This acts as a guide for landlords and tenants when first agreeing a tenancy to strike a fair balance between the two parties’ interests.


The current recommendation about pets reads as follows:


“The Tenant must not keep any pets or other animals at the Property without the prior written consent of the Landlord which must not be unreasonably withheld or delayed. If permission is given, it may be given on the condition that the Tenant pays an additional reasonable amount towards the deposit.”


But the government believes the resulting restrictive contracts mean many people, especially young renters and families, miss out on the opportunity to own pets. Those who already have one struggle to find suitable accommodation and those without no longer have the option.


Jenrick, who leads the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, said: “Pets bring a huge amount of joy and comfort to people’s lives, helping their owners through difficult times and improving their mental and physical wellbeing. So, it’s a shame that thousands of animal-loving tenants and their children can’t experience this because they rent their homes instead of owning property.


“So, I’m overhauling our model tenancy contract to encourage more landlords to consider opening their doors to responsible pet owners. And we will be listening to tenants and landlords to see what more we can do to tackle this issue in a way that is fair to both.”


Addressing Landlord Concerns


With 9 million dogs and over 7 million cats living in UK homes, not to mention thousands of rabbits, birds, hamsters and lizards, pet-friendly property to rent is in high demand. And landlords who don’t allow pets are missing out on a potentially huge market.


Their concerns range from cats scratching furniture and carpets to barking dogs disturbing neighbours. 


With this cautiousness in mind, the government’s proposed revisions to the model tenancy agreement centre on removing restrictions on ‘well-behaved’ pets.


Jenrick added: “[This will] ensure more landlords are catering for responsible pet owners wherever possible.


“The government is clear there should be a balance with responsible pet owners not being penalised and landlords being more flexible in their approach, and it is right that landlords’ properties should be protected from damage by badly behaved pets.”


Indeed, Jenrick added that landlords will still be free to implement pet bans where there is good reason, in line with the existing guidance note within the model tenancy agreement:

“Clause C3.5 prohibits the keeping of pets in the property without the landlord’s consent which must not be unreasonably withheld. This means the landlord cannot exercise a blanket ban on pets and should not turn a request down without good reason. For example a landlord might consider a large dog would be reasonably likely to damage the property but clearly a goldfish would not. If consent is given on the condition that additional deposit is paid by the tenant, then the landlord must also protect that additional deposit in an authorised tenancy deposit scheme.”


Alongside the abolition of tenants’ fees and Section 21, the plan to boost the number of pet-friendly properties to rent has been described as “part of this new government’s mission to improve life for tenants, recognising that more are renting and for longer in life.” 


Considering allowing pets in your property? Read MakeUrMove’s helpful advice here.

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