One in two tenants fear they’ll be stuck renting – and without pets

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blanket bans on pets for renting are a huge problem for people who rent, and a new bill aims to change that

New research from animal welfare charity Battersea reveals that one in two tenants fear they will never buy a home, with the growing number of lifetime renters significantly limiting the UK’s aspirations of pet ownership.

In the UK, the share of households occupied by private renters has almost doubled in two decades – but only about 7 per cent of private landlords listed their properties as allowing animals, leaving very little choice to renters with pets.

Sophie Savage spent 18 months searching in vain for rental accommodation that would accept both her and her 13-year-old cat, before finding an understanding landlord at last.

“It’s heart-breaking to see owners having to give up their cherished pets for lack of housing options”

Sophie said, “I think the reason why my situation works so well is that my landlord and I have communicated openly and honestly from the beginning, which is something that benefits us both. From the start I’ve taken sensible steps to avoid anything getting damaged – like putting a plastic shield around my stair banister to stop my cat from scratching it – which has helped create a shared sense of trust.

“The experience has proved to me that, providing both parties are willing to talk to each other and make reasonable adjustments, this kind of landlord-tenant relationship can be a really positive one.”

That sense of trust is not easily found. According to a survey on 1,000 renters carried out by management company Quintain Living, a third of pet owners living in rented accommodation have to hide their pet from their landlord.

Change may be on the way, however: in a renting reform White Paper published on 15 June, Housing Secretary Michael Gove has announced that the Government is seeking to change the law in order to prevent landlords having blanket pet bans on rented property.

A change in law to stop blanket bans on pets would make a huge difference for pet owners living in rented accommodations. Charity AdvoCATS, who have been campaigning to allow landlords to request a financially capped pet deposit or a pet damage insurance in order to encourage more to rent to pet owners – which will be included in the reform – has welcomed the news.

According to Battersea, that change cannot come soon enough.

Peter Laurie, Battersea’s Chief Executive, said, “At Battersea, we take in much-loved pets for many reasons – but one factor we see owners cite time and time again is not being able to find a rental property that allows animals. It’s heart-breaking to see owners having to give up their cherished pets for lack of housing options.

“With long-term renting firmly on the rise, we’re calling on the Government to do more to increase the number of pet-friendly homes across the country. Not only will this help ensure more dogs and cats are able to stay in their original, loving homes, it will also allow more people to enjoy the many benefits of responsible pet ownership.”

Dominic Payne de Cramilly, an Essex-based landlord, believes the benefits of renting to pet owners – like lower tenant turnover and gaining a commercial edge over animal-averse competitors – have so far gone relatively unnoticed by landlords.

“The idea of all pets being destructive is a massive misconception”

Dominic said, “Providing the property is suitable for the type of pet a tenant owns, I have absolutely no issue renting to a pet owner. Ultimately, I find animals are a product of their owners – if the tenant is well behaved, chances are their pet will be too.

“I’ve been a landlord for a quarter of a century and have had far more issues with humans causing damage in my properties than I’ve ever had with pets.

“The idea of all pets being destructive is a massive misconception, and there’s definitely some myth-busting to be done amongst the landlord community.”

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