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Pets and Rental Reform - A Growing Worry for Landlords

As landlords across England brace themselves for the implementation of the Renters Reform Bill, a lettings agency chain - Leaders Romans Group - has unveiled findings from a recent landlord survey, highlighting significant concerns among landlords about pets in rented properties.

According to Statista 57% of UK households had a pet in 2023. However, it introduces a host of challenges for property maintenance, tenant relationships, and building management.

The Renters Reform Bill proposes comprehensive changes, including the abolition of "no-fault" evictions under Section 21, the introduction of a "lifetime" deposit system, and, notably, provisions for tenants to request permission from their landlords to keep pets. While these changes aim to offer more stability and security for tenants, they raise significant questions about the impact on landlords and the management of their properties.

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LRG’s survey, which took into account responses from landlords and tenants across England, indicates a palpable apprehension. 56% of landlords predict negative impacts due to the Bill's approach to pet ownership in rental properties; in contrast, only 9.81% see a positive impact. This concern surpasses even the potential effects of abolishing Section 21 evictions, demonstrating the magnitude of the pet policy issue within the private rental sector.

56% of landlords perceive the impact of the "right to request a pet" as positive for tenants, whereas 16% view it as negative, and 16% believe it will make no difference. Only 10% are unsure of the impact. Interestingly, tenants were less concerned about pet ownership; 68% said when they last moved, they didn’t ask to keep a pet, as they didn’t own one. 18% asked and were accepted, 9% had difficulty but did find somewhere to rent, and only 2% said they had difficulty and therefore, didn’t get a pet.

Allowing tenants to request permission to keep pets would require a change in tenancy agreements and acknowledges the importance of pets in people's lives.

Commentary gathered from landlords echoes this sentiment, with one landlord noting, "ownership of Dogs in flats [is] negative unless [there is] outside space - barking can be a problem!!" Another adds, "Don't think people should be able to have dogs more easily - they are destructive if left alone, damage gardens, but most importantly, can create difficulties with neighbours as so many bark for long periods." A third comment reflects a broader concern: "Better for tenants but re the pets, more constraints on landlords trying to maintain decent standards of property."

Kim Lidbury, Group Director, Property Management at LRG, underscores the complexity of the situation, saying: "The introduction of pet-friendly policies in rental agreements is a nuanced issue that requires careful consideration to balance the interests of tenants with those of landlords. Not all property types may be suitable for pets, for instance flats within blocks and properties without gardens. The Third Reading of the Bill recently included a mandate that tenants either maintain insurance to cover potential pet damage or compensate the landlord for the reasonable cost of obtaining such insurance. 

“This is a positive step forward which does seem to address landlords' concerns while also enhancing the lives of tenants and their pets. However more detail is still required to ensure that pets can only be requested in an appropriate property.

“LRG is dedicated to engaging with both landlords and tenants to navigate these legislative changes effectively. By leveraging insights from the landlord community and advocating for balanced policies, LRG aims to contribute to a fair and sustainable rental market that meets the needs of all parties involved.”

Anyone wishing to read the full report of landlord and tenant sentiment can download it here

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    I sold all my properties, and invested abroad.
    If Labour get in, then R.I.P. U.K.

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    J K I think it’s a when they get in. But at moment the Tories aren’t much better. Cowering g to the Tenant lobby folk. It’s only going to get worse. Dont blame u for selling all .

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    How many people got pets during lockdown without understanding the animals needs?
    Weren't animal shelters overwhelmed with unwanted pets when the reality of pet ownership became apparent?
    Purely from an animal welfare point of view tenants having pets in most rental properties is a bad idea. A great many rentals have very limited or no outside space. The majority of tenants are out at work all day, which many dogs find distressing. Neighbours are then subjected to hearing the dog howling or barking all day.
    Then there's the cost of pet ownership. How many people misjudge that one? How many tenants have sufficient surplus income to be able to afford an unexpected vet bill?

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    On the rare occasions that I have permitted pets in suitable accommodation I have put the pets’ welfare first. In one case the small dog followed her owner at all times and would actually go to work with her.
    In another property the tenant asked to have a house cat which I agreed to. There was some minor damage which the tenant offered to pay for, but they had been a good tenant and, very sadly, had only left to go into a hospice at too young an age. 😟

     
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    While one of my tenants once had a dog which caused no problems, in general terms, Jo is totally right. My Mother works for the RSPCA and can vouch for shelters still being overwhelmed and a large number of people (tenant/non-tenant split not recorded) pleading for help with vet bills.

     
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    The right kind of people in the right kind of properties then okay with a pet rent added on

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    Exactly, Andrew! 👍

     
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    Problems arise when a tenant moves a large dog in without permission, as has happened to me, tempting to go round and shoot the thing, not done so yet, but never say never

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    I had 6 rabbits discovered during a routine inspection in a studio flat! They all soon left with the tenant.

     
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    Andrew

    Make sure you only shoot the tenant!

    It's not the dog's fault he's got a lousy owner.

     
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    It’s pretty common to find unauthorised pets in rentals and it’s the sheer disrespect of failing to ask for the LL’s consent that makes my pee boil!
    Generally pets are a bad idea usually because their owners can’t/won’t manage them responsibly. Only very occasionally have I accepted pets in my let’s and that’s not going to change.

  • Sarah Fox-Moore

    PETS:- Heres what people do NOT know about the Proposed Renters Bill ( hint- nothing will really change if youve read the Bill🤫😉) -

    RIGHT TO "ASK", NOT RIGHT TO HAVE
    The Bill does NOT give Tenants any rights or entitlements to have or keep pets. Period. It is designed to "encourage" landlords to allow pet ownership and prevent "blanket bans" HOWEVER despite the change to the model tenancy agreement, properties will STILL be able to be advertised as ‘no pets’ or ‘no pets considered’. The update just means that tenants in-situ can put forward a written REQUEST to keep a pet to the landlord, and the landlord has 28 days to object with a good reason, which they can easily do (see Exemptions)

    COSTS TO TENANTS:-
    "The bill proposes pet owners will have to have a Certificate of Responsible Animal Guardianship which Tenants will have to pay for:
    >Certificates will be issued strictly subject to a Responsible Ownership TEST conducted by a registered vet, the criteria to pass includes amongst other things:

    ●Microchipping (for dogs and cats)
    ●De-worming and de-fleaing
    ●Required annual vaccinations
    ●the Demonstrable ability to respond to a set of basic commands (for dogs)
    ●The Tenant Fees Act currently does not permit Landlords to demand Tenants have & pay for pet Liability INSURANCE, but under these Proposals that will change. Plus Tenants will be obligated to pay for all damages & repairs and a bigger DEPOSIT can be demanded as well.

    DATA BASE:
    The bill also proposes that all information regarding an animal AND its OWNER be entered into a NATIONAL database – including mandatory microchipping for all dogs and cats. [Which will be a great tool to track & trace tenants for debt ! btw 👍]

    LANDLORD EXEMPTIONS
    Landlords can easily apply for Certificate of Exemption to ban pets for a number of reasons including

    ■The landlord or another tenant has a religious or medical reason not to come into contact with a dog or domestic animal
    ■The accommodation is unsuitable for the animal
    ■ medical condition/allergies
    Certificates of exemption may be provided for:
    ▪︎Groups of dwellings within a building or area
    Entire buildings
    ▪︎Specific orders, families, species or breeds of animal....to name but a few.

    Essentially nothing will really change for Landlords within these proposals.

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    Sarah

    Congratulations on a well researched piece of work!

    Perhaps you should ensure Beadle's About knows all of this? On second thoughts, don't as he'll only try to water it down.

    Personally speaking, the very idea of encouraging tenants to even consider pets in most prs properties,
    which are usually smaller flats, horrifies me and reinforces my decision a few years ago to focus entirely on the student market who won't want to stay long term, don't want pets and have several solvent guarantors with joint and several responsibility.

    Another nail in the coffin for families needing to rent but they will never catch on to the harm done in their name!

     
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    I don't really care because I'm selling up. Nothing surprises me any more when it comes to the landlord kicking brigade.. This landlord's had enough of the Scottish government's madness and is making an exit. Byeeeee!

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    I'm quite happy to take the additional 33% rent which the SNP have made possible through other landlords selling up- and modest conversions to add a further bedroom now have a payback of less than 2 years, which is less than half the time it took only 6 years ago.

    Happy days in Scottish prs - at least for student landlords - but not for families wanting to rent long term at affordable rents!

     
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    Renters Reform Bill , Selective License, and Section 24. Driving Landlords Out ,Rents up ,and tenants out on the street.


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    So if a house is a forced HMO by Council like mine, is it the 6.7 m2 room for one person or the 10.2 m2 room for 2 people sharing that can also have a dog and will it be in the room with them ? In the kitchen/ Bathroom or private shared area and can they all have a dog. That rules out dogs in HMO clearly not suitable and made that mandatory no dogs in HMO’s.
    Selective licensing are not HMO’s maybe you want to stick the dogs in there, good luck with that.

  • Matthew Payne

    Its not a signifcant concern or worry at all. Ask all you want, unless you are putting down a decent deposit as with before the TFA and obligate yourself to professional cleaning etc then the answer is no. Im not quite sure why LRG are over complicating it unless they simply want to make landlords feel nervous so they need "an expert" to help them manage their property with all this scary legislation coming.

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    Your final sentence nailed it, Matthew. 👍

     
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    Yes, dogs are horrible for rental properties, with their barking, hair, smell, chewing, vomit, and wee and faeces - full deposits through to small flakes - especially if you have carpets. But cats, rabbits and other small animals can be even worse, because of dander and lint. My friend who has asthma and my wife who is allergic can both instantly tell if a property has previously been occupied by an animal, no matter how well "professionally cleaned". As a houseshare / HMO landlord, I will continue to refuse all pets on the grounds of health, both on behalf of existing housemates and future ones.

    It's ironic that these people pushing pets into rental properties are often the same ones complaining about people suffering from respiratory illnesses due to condensation mould in under-ventilated properties.

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    Not an animal lover it would seem! I have permitted dogs and cats on four occasions over the last few years and each tenant has, with one exception, left the property spotless. The exception was the tenant who sadly died in a hospice and the damage his cat did was minimal.

    As an aside, I have asthma and COPD because of smoking over the years and that is not affected by my cats or dogs thankfully.

     
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