Who is NOAH?
NOAH represents the UK animal health industry. We promote the benefits of safe, effective, quality products and services for the health and welfare of all animals. Our vision is to be at the forefront of UK animal health and welfare.
Widening access to pets in rented accommodation
In the UK, owning a pet in rented accommodation can be very difficult. According to Tenants Voice, 78% of pet owners experience problems finding a rental property, and according to rental start-up Home Made, only 2.8% of property owners in the UK advertise homes as suitable for tenants with pets. Pet owners are therefore largely excluded from obtaining accommodation in the rented sector, or they are forced to lose their pet in exchange for living in a rented property. At NOAH, we want to change this, and enable every tenant who already owns or wants to own a companion animal to have access to good-quality housing and not be forced to make impossible decisions over pet ownership.
The Model Tenancy Agreement
Whilst the updated Government Model Tenancy Agreement is a positive step in the right direction, it remains speculative in England only and property owners are not obligated by law to adopt or enforce the MTA. Our goal to widen access to pets in rented accommodation therefore remains, and our goal is to 1) encourage wider use of the MTA across England, 2) collaborate with property owners to establish their feedback on the MTA and any specific requirements they have for enhancing the policy, and 3) campaigning for the policy to be extended to social housing and assisted living facilities.
The UK is a pet-loving nation, with the PFMA recently reporting that over 17 million British households own a pet. Pet ownership is proven to have an astounding number of benefits, including on our mental and physical health, overall wellbeing, and our happiness.
- Domestic animals form deep emotional bonds with their owners, and they can provide companionship to isolated people. In the UK, Loneliness is a significant issue, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic; over 9 million people in the UK (around 1.5 of the population) have said they always or often feel lonely. In many cases, companion animals can be the sole contact for isolated people – during lockdowns, many people were forced to isolate for long period of time away from family and friends, and animals provided vital companionship in this challenging time.
- Pets can also reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and depression amongst many more mental health conditions. Science has time and time again shown how pets have a calming effect on humans: stroking, playing with or even just sitting with an animal has been proven to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and depression by providing sensory relief and lowering blood pressure. Reports of a study found that 82% of those surveyed believed that owning a pet would benefit their mental well-being.
- Pets can also encourage healthier lifestyles, by creating better daily routines and inspiring you to get outside for some fresh air and exercise. Research has shown that Brits are putting their health at risk by failing to get active, with Public Health England finding that 1 in 2 (42%) of women and 1 in 3 (34%) of men are not active enough for good health. The same report highlights the health benefits of walking, such as reduced risk of death and exposure to diseases, improved metabolic health and a greater sense of wellbeing. Having a companion animal such as a dog can significantly increase the chances of people getting outside for daily exercise.
- The pandemic also highlighted the importance of being able to go outside and get active – many of us were isolated at home, struggling to separate our work and social lives, and finding it difficult to get outside given the challenging circumstances. Having a pet creates a sense of responsibility, and for many provides a purpose to get outside and reach your daily activity goals.
- A report of a study found that 75% of private renters felt a pet would benefit their physical health, and a huge 61% of women said they would feel safer and less anxious in their homes with a pet to provide companionship
- Sadly, the adversity to allowing pets in rented accommodation is having an extremely negative impact on pets and pet owners in the UK.
- Dogs Trust state that the single biggest reason that dogs are handed into rehoming centres is due to a change in their owner’s living circumstances. Shelters like Dogs Trust are charity funded organisations and rely on a finite amount of resources to care for animals. In some extreme cases, animals are not rehomed due to being elderly or having a long-term illness – this means that shelters must make the impossible decision to euthanise a pet who cannot find its forever home due to a severe shortage of resources.
- Elderly people too often bare the brunt of this loss when the time comes for them to move into supported accommodation. A nationally representative survey found that more than 4% of adults in the UK know an elderly person who has been forced to put their pet to sleep due to moving into supported accommodation.
- There is substantial evidence that indicates elderly people often refuse moving into supported accommodation, despite it being in their best interests, due to fear of losing their pets. There is also historical evidence to show that the loss of a pet for an elderly person can cause significant and long-term emotional distress, causing overall detriment to their health which may already be at risk.