Will changes in the Model Tenancy Agreement and the proposed Dogs and Domestic Animals Accommodation Bill make renting with pets the new norm? It could make life easier for pet owners looking for rented accommodation, but it may not give tenants the absolute right to keep a pet they were hoping for.

Renting with pets is in demand.

Rightmove reports a 120% increase in the demand for pet-friendly rental properties. This is in stark contrast to the PDSA report that only around 7% of privately rented accommodation is advertised as pet friendly. It reflects that finding a rental property if you have a pet isn’t straightforward.

In a move that may address this, the government is taking steps to make it easier for anyone with pets to find somewhere to rent by changing the default position of landlords on pet ownership.

So what’s changing?

The Model Tenancy Agreement is the government’s recommended contract for landlords to use with tenants, and it has been updated to be more pet friendly. There’s no longer a blanket ban on tenants having pets, and landlords are being encouraged to allow them.

Renters must still seek written consent from landlords to keep pets on the property, but landlords must respond within 28 days, giving a good reason for objecting. However, they still have no legal obligation to accept pets.

In addition, the Dog and Domestic Animals Accommodation Protection Bill is seeking to add further assistance for responsible pet owners to find rental properties. While this bill is still awaiting approval, it proposes that pet owners with a ‘certificate of responsible animal guardianship’ would be able to demonstrate to landlords that they are responsible owners, making the landlord more comfortable with leasing to a pet owner.

Neither of these measures gives tenants the legal right to keep pets in rented accommodation, but they change the default position of pets in rented accommodation. The Model Tenancy Agreement states that landlords must not withhold or delay consent to refuse a pet. The Dog and Domestic Animals Accommodation Protection Bill would require landlords to have a certificate of exemption if they want to prohibit pets, for example, religious objections.

What does this mean for landlords?

Many landlords may wish to support their tenants having pets but are cautious about the potential challenges this can present. These include additional damage and wear and tear a pet may incur at a property or the risk that it may be loud and become a nuisance to other residents.

In our article Should I allow pets in my rental property? we look at the pros and cons for landlords of accepting pets and ways in which they can mitigate potential loss by ensuring that their tenancy agreement stipulates clear guidelines on pet ownership and ways to mitigate any additional costs.

It seems inevitable that demand for pet ownership in rental properties will increase. To keep pace with the change and tenant needs, landlords and agents mustn’t put this on the back-burner. Being prepared for change is the best way to ensure that you have the right solution that works for all parties.

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