Finding the ‘Paws-itives’

A Landlord's guide to potential upcoming pet changes

We know that being a landlord in the UK comes with a unique set of challenges and responsibilities. However, one of the longstanding dilemmas many landlords have often faced is whether or not to allow pets in their rental properties. Upcoming changes in the UK rental market are set to bring significant adjustments to the way landlords approach pet-friendly rentals. In this article, we'll explore these changes from a landlord's perspective and discuss how to navigate this evolving landscape effectively.

The Ban on 'No Pets' Clauses

One of the most notable upcoming changes in the ‘Rental reform bill’ is the potential ban on 'no pets' clauses in rental agreements. Historically, landlords could include these clauses, effectively preventing tenants from having pets. While this change may seem daunting to some landlords, it's important to find the positives. Allowing pets can increase the pool of potential renters, potentially leading to shorter vacancy periods.

Pet insurance

The government is considering amending the Tenant fees Act 2019 to make it possible for a landlord to require their tenants to obtain pet insurance or to pay the landlord to take out their own pet insurance at the property. You will only be able to request payment for the part of the cover that specifically relates to the pet damage. This balanced approach can help landlords safeguard their property while remaining competitive in the pet-friendly rental market.

Encouraging Responsible Pet Ownership

The changes in pet-friendly rentals are also aimed at promoting responsible pet ownership. As a landlord, may be able to request evidence of a tenant's pet's vaccination status, training, and behaviour history. This not only provides you with peace of mind and the ability to make a better-informed decision, but also ensures that tenants with pets are committed to maintaining a well-behaved and safe living environment.

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Open Communication

Effective communication with tenants has always been the cornerstone of successful property management. With the potential upcoming changes, it's crucial to establish open and transparent communication about pets from the beginning of the tenancy. Statistics from Propertymark show that 84% of agent members said they have experienced instances where tenants are keeping a pet at a property without their landlords or agents consent. Opening communication on this will allow you to set clear expectations, rules, and responsibilities regarding pet care and any potential issues that may arise.

The Benefits of Pet-Friendly Rentals

Welcoming pets into your rental properties can have numerous advantages for landlords. It can broaden your tenant pool, reduce vacancy periods, and create longer, more stable tenancies. This could encourage your tenants to make your rental property their home for a much longer time, thus reducing void periods where you have no rental income coming in.

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Situations to decline a pet

As a landlord, you must reply to your tenants within 42 days of the pet request either granting the requesting or declining it, if declining it, it is important to provide a reason;

These reasons could include:

  • Unsuitable pets. A judge is unlikely to look kindly upon a tenant trying to keep a horse in their back garden. Likewise, illegal breeds under the Dangerous Dogs Act and unlicensed exotic pets will remain banned.
  • HMOs. If other tenants in the property oppose a co-sharer getting a pet, particularly if allergies are involved, this would be reasonable to deny the request.
  • Live-in landlord. Similar to the above, a live-in landlord, or a landlord who plans to return to living in the property in the near future, would have the same right to deny a pet on the grounds of not wanting to live with one or having allergies which may be affected in the future.
  • Head-lease – if the property is a flat and it is against the terms of the head lease to keep a pet in the building, this could also be a reasonable response to declining permission for a pet.

The evolving landscape of pet-friendly rentals in the UK presents landlords with both challenges and opportunities. While the upcoming changes may require some adjustments in how you manage your properties, they also offer the potential for increased rental income and tenant stability. By embracing these changes, maintaining open communication, and making informed decisions about pet-friendly policies, landlords can navigate this new era of renting with pets successfully and reap the rewards it offers.

For any further queries or advice on how to approach a pet request in your rental property, please get in contact.

Angharad Trueman – Group Lettings Director

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