Despite changes to the Model Tenancy Agreement, which will no longer allow a blanket ban of pets, a charity is arguing that the current Tenant Fees Act is still creating “a needless barrier” to pet ownership in rented accommodation.
The Tenant Fees Act (2019), which abolished the provision for landlords to request extra security deposits for pets, has “added to the problems faced by pet-owners or prospective pet-owners in securing rented accommodation,” according to research published by the charity AdvoCATS.
The Heads for Tails report argues that “insurance options that include pet damage for both landlords and tenants are few and far between” and that, unable to request extra security deposits for pets, most landlords do not accept any pets – and many of those who do now charge a monthly “pet rent” top up.
AdvoCATSeastmids co-founder, Jen Berezai said, “A business problem requires a business solution: if the problem is the possibility of pet damage, then pet damage insurance answers that problem.
“Amending the list of permitted payments under the Tenant Fees Act 2019 would be a simple but highly effective way of increasing the availability of pet-friendly rented accommodation. At present, a needless barrier has been created to pet-ownership in rented accommodation.”
According to polling conducted by YouGov and commissioned by the Society for Companion Animal Studies, 53 per cent of pet owners would be willing to pay for such cover, if required and reasonably priced. The Tenant Fees Act could be amended by secondary legislation, requiring a simple up/down vote by Parliament.
Chairman of the Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS), Dr Elizabeth Ormerod, added, “The Tenant Fees Act, by removing the option for landlords to require a pet deposit or have pet damage insurance, resulted in many landlords introducing no pets policies. The consequences are tragic and far-reaching for tenants and their companion animals.
“Pet owners find it difficult or impossible to find suitable accommodation; many are forced to choose between having a roof over their heads or keeping the pet that is part of their family. Thousands of animals are being relinquished to shelters.
“Some people choose to be street homeless with their pets. John Chadwick was lost to suicide. Parliament needs to address this urgently.”
While the introduction of the new Model Tenancy Agreement with no option for a blanket pet ban, the clause is not legally binding. Although its second reading in January was cancelled, the campaign to introduce Jasmine’s Law – which would place strict limits to on the ability of landlords to impose “no pets” policies in rented accommodation – is still ongoing.