Finding a new property to rent can be a stressful process, particularly if you have a furry friend to consider. Many renters in the UK are pet owners, and while having a pet can bring a lot of joy, it can also bring limitations when it comes to housing options. Only 7% of rental properties are pet-friendly, despite the demand for housing.
But can landlords refuse pets?
In this article, we’ll explore the question of whether landlords can operate strict no-pet policies. Whether you’re a seasoned renter or looking for your first home, this guide will help you navigate the complex world of pet-friendly renting.
Can Landlords Refuse Pets in their Property?
The short answer is yes, landlords can refuse pets, but there are some important caveats.
Under the UK’s Housing Act 1988, landlords can include a “no pets” clause in their tenancy agreements. This means that they can refuse to rent their property to anyone with a pet, or they can require tenants to get rid of their pets in order to move in. However, in recent years there has been a growing trend towards pet-friendly housing, with many landlords marketing their properties as suitable for pets.
The good news is that in 2021, the UK government introduced new model tenancy agreements that make it easier for renters with pets to find suitable homes. These agreements include a standard clause that allows tenants to keep pets with the landlord’s written consent.
However, it’s worth noting that this clause is optional, so not all landlords will include it in their tenancy agreements. Additionally, some landlords may still be wary of allowing pets due to concerns over damage to the property or disturbance to neighbours. In these cases, landlords may require a higher deposit or additional clauses in the tenancy agreement to protect themselves.
The Renters Reform Bill seeks to change this: the bill has been in discussion since 2019 and is rumoured to come into action later this year. The bill will allow tenants to request a pet, which the landlord must consider and not unreasonably refuse. If they want to refuse, they will need to be able to provide a good reason.
Dogs and cats are by far the most popular pets in the UK, and they are also the most commonly allowed by landlords. Other popular pets that are often allowed by landlords include small mammals such as hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits. These pets are relatively low maintenance and don’t require a lot of space, making them a popular choice for renters (and landlords).
Fish and birds are also commonly allowed by landlords, as they are quiet and generally do not cause damage to the property. However, it’s worth noting that some landlords may have specific requirements for fish tanks or bird cages, such as ensuring they are properly secured and not likely to cause any damage.
On the other hand, some pets may be more difficult to rent with. For example, reptiles and amphibians may be seen as more unusual or exotic pets, and some landlords may be less familiar with their care requirements. Similarly, larger pets such as horses or large dogs can often be a no-go.
While many landlords are open to tenants having pets, there are several reasons why some may choose to refuse pets in their rental properties.
One of the most common reasons for landlords refusing pets is the potential for damage to the property. 85% of landlords report damage to properties from pets. Pets, particularly dogs, can scratch floors, chew furniture, and cause other forms of damage to the property.
Landlords may also be concerned about potential noise complaints from neighbours, especially if the pet is prone to barking or other loud behaviour.
Finally, landlords may be concerned about their own liability if a pet were to injure someone on the property. While pet owners are generally responsible for any damage or injuries caused by their pets, landlords may still be liable if they are found to have knowingly allowed a dangerous animal on the property.
If you’re a pet owner and your landlord has refused to allow pets in the rental property, there are several steps you can take.
First, it’s important to understand your rights as a tenant. While many landlords may include a “no pets” clause in their tenancy agreement, this may not always be legally enforceable. In some cases, tenants have successfully challenged such clauses in court, arguing that they unfairly restrict their right to enjoy their home and that they discriminate against those with disabilities who require a service animal. However, this can be a complex legal issue, and it’s important to seek professional legal advice before taking any action.
Assuming that your landlord’s refusal to allow pets is legally enforceable, there are still some steps you can take to try and change their mind. One option is to offer to pay a higher deposit to cover any potential damage caused by your pet. You could also offer to have your pet undergo obedience training or to provide references from previous landlords to demonstrate that you are a responsible pet owner.
Another option is to suggest a trial period to show how your pet behaves in the property. This could involve a short-term lease with a clause that allows either party to terminate the agreement if there are any issues.
If the landlord remains steadfast in their refusal to allow pets, you may need to consider finding a different property that is more pet-friendly. While there aren’t many pet-friendly properties on the market, they are becoming more common as time goes on and sure to find the perfect home for you and your furry-friend.
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