Two-thirds of private renters who would like to own a pet are being forced to delay by restrictive tenancy agreements, and this is contributing to the UK’s loneliness epidemic, according to new research by YouGov and Mars Petcare.
The study found that private renters believe owning a pet would improve their lives, with four in five - 82% - of those who wish to own a pet of the opinion that it would benefit their mental well-being.
Meanwhile, 75% said it would benefit their physical health and 76% said it would make them feel less lonely. 61% of women said it would make them feel safer in their homes.
In addition, one in ten private renters surveyed said they had moved or given up a pet because of their pet being unwelcome.
The findings of the research suggest that some landlords are missing out on an additional pool of tenants.
Just 43% of private renters surveyed said their landlord offered a pet-friendly rental policy, while just over half of residendents - 53% - said they would be likely to consider a longer tenancy if their landlord allowed pets.
Some 10% of private renters said they had moved home or given up a pet as a result of restrictive tenancy agreements.
The Tenant Fees Act introduced in June 2019 has seen some pet owners paying increasingly high rents as landlords are banned from requesting pet-specific deposits. Yet, just 22% of private renters said they would welcome paying a higher rent to own a pet, with 53% instead favouring a pet-specific deposit on top of their regular deposit, while half - 50% - of those surveyed would be happy to pay for additional cleaning services.
Mars Petcare is now calling on the government to do more to guarantee the rights of private renters to own pets so that more people are able to reap the benefits.
Helen Warren-Piper, general manager at Mars Petcare UK, commented: “At Mars Petcare we have always known that pets make the world a better place, which is why we have made it our mission to create a world where they are healthy, happy, and welcome.
“Our recent survey shows that many private renters would love to own a pet, but are unable to because of unfavourable tenancy laws.
“We therefore believe that changing the rights of private tenants with respect to pet ownership, is an important step to creating that world. That’s why we are calling on the UK government to work with landlords and tenants to find an improved way forward so that more people are able to enjoy the benefits of responsible pet ownership.”
Georgie Laming, campaigns manager at Generation Rent, said: "Pets are a large part of making a house a home and whatever your tenure you should be able to keep a pet. Tenants with pets are more likely to want a stable, long term home, which benefits landlords in the long run. Whilst we welcome the Secretary of State's commitment to updating the model tenancy agreement to make renting fairer for pet owners it's clear that further measures are needed to guarantee the rights of renters to own pets."