Is this the end of my pet hate about rentals?

Over the last year, with lockdown and family life at home taking more of a front seat, we’re now even more barking mad for pets than ever before. Families, couples and singles all over the country will now require their homes to be pet friendly, both owner occupied and rented. 

Historically, the lettings industry has been very un-pet-friendly, with very few landlords entertaining animals. To me, this has always been very unfair and generally speaking, pretty unfounded.  Landlords rarely turn down families with young children and I think we all know that most toddlers can do a lot of damage – probably much more than a well-behaved pooch! 

Thankfully though, in this tenant’s market and with the Government’s latest changes to the Model Tenancy Agreement enabling tenants with ‘well-behaved pets’ to secure a tenancy more easily, it’s looking up for animal lovers in England.

Under the revised Agreement, landlords will now have to grant consent for pets as the default position, and will have to object in writing within 28 days of a written pet request from a tenant and provide a good reason for an objection.

The key change only allows the banning of pets where there is a good reason (such as large pets in smaller properties or flats, or other properties where having a pet could be impractical). 

The aim is to encourage landlords to be more open to pet-owning tenants, although they will not be forced to accept them and may still have the final say. Tenants will also continue to have a legal duty to repair or cover the cost of any damage to the property, which is the case with most tenancies anyway.

In response to the new changes, Propertymark has urged the UK Government “to recognise the impact of their decision to cap deposits and the knock-on costs that landlords face.”

It’s becoming more and more obvious (to me, anyway) that this pro-tenant movement is pivotal in the Government’s bid to close down the gap between owning and renting. 

With house prices too high for many people to even think about getting onto the ladder, the rental sector can further adapt to address and allow tenants to feel completely ‘at home’.

Currently there are so few properties out there that do openly accept pets, that tenants with pets are extremely restricted and sometimes have even had to give up their beloved companions in order to move or move much further out. 

What’s next?

With mental health and wellbeing a key issue in our current society, the changes are extremely welcome and very overdue and starts to reduce the stigmas that surround renting over buying, which has always been a very English thing, given that in so many countries around Europe, long-term renting is the norm.  

We are finally heading even further towards a much better balance between owning and renting and I would not be surprised if the next steps within the private sector will be compulsory long-term leases, the abolition of Section 21 notices, and even more tenant-friendly measures, such as fixed term rents (much like a fixed term mortgages) or rent caps to help a rental property become a long-term/permanent home.

orange tabby cat lying on chair

Who will be the winners in these reforms? 

Well obviously pet-owning tenants will see this as an active move to address the discrimination that has been in the industry forever, but it also benefits the Government as it will go some way to sorting out housing needs.
Institutional landlords who seek to attract long term tenants, a high occupancy and guaranteed rent roll. 

Of course some buildings do not allow pets on their leaseholds as a rule and this may be something that also has to be addressed in order to keep up with the new reforms, otherwise buy to let landlords and some home-owners renting out as stop-gap, may well be at a disadvantage. 

Buy to Let landlords will simply have to consider pets and consider how they furnish their properties accordingly to minimise any danger zones (e.g. stair carpet) or make them easily replaceable, but really, changes will have to be relatively few and will not only see properties being much more popular, but also mean landlords must start to take a long-term view of their tenant’s happiness and wellbeing. 

A happy tenant is a good tenant in my view, and these changes are indicative of a moral shift in our industry that symbolises a lot more than just supporting our furry friends to take residency…

Read the full article on the changes on Arla’s website – https://www.arla.co.uk/news/january-2021/new-model-tenancy-agreement-to-help-renters-with-well-behaved-pets.aspx