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.
Improving Access to Pets in Rented Accommodation
In the UK, owning a pet in rented accommodation can be a significant challenge, and in many cases, it is not possible at all. Research published by Zoopla in 2021 reported that only 7% of rental properties are listed as suitable for pets, despite new research by Battersea published in February 2022 finding that 23% of all households rent their homes from private landlords.
The same report by Battersea, ‘Why Pet Friendly Rentals Matter’, found that demand for pet-friendly accommodation is on the rise, with 43% of tenants already owning a pet and a further 33% aspiring to own a pet now or in the future. When we compare these figures to the 7% of properties currently available for pet owners, there is a clear and substantial shortfall in private rented accommodation that will support and enable pet ownership.
At NOAH, we want to change this by enabling every responsible tenant to have access to good-quality housing that does not exclude them from the benefits of pet ownership.
The Model Tenancy Agreement
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (now the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) updated their Model Tenancy Agreement (MTA) for England on 28 January 2021. The updated MTA intended to make it easier for tenants with pets to find suitable rental accommodation, by removing the ability for landlords to impose ‘blanket bans’ on pets. Instead, consent for pets was made the default position, and landlords would have to object in writing within 28 days of a written pet request from a tenant and provide a good reason for refusal, such as the property being too small or having no garden space.
NOAH were pleased to welcome the updated MTA, which demonstrated a positive step in the right direction to making pet ownership more accessible in the private rented sector. However, the MTA does not yet go far enough.
At present, the MTA remains speculative, it only applies to England, and landlords are not obligated by law to adopt or enforce the MTA. Ultimately, the MTA fails to improve access to pets in rented accommodation in any long-term or meaningful way.
What could be done?
Improving access to pets in private rented accommodation will only be achieved if a solution can be identified that properly protects landlords. tenants and pets.
We understand that for landlords, there are perceived fears about pets in properties, and not enough protections in place to encourage them to remove restrictive tenancy agreements. For tenants, restrictive tenancies can mean total exclusion from pet ownership, giving up a pet in return for suitable accommodation, or incurring additional costs such as informal higher rents and deposits. For pets, a lack of suitable housing means higher numbers of animals in shelters, and in some cases, pets taken away from their owners. A balance must be struck.
Therefore, NOAH is urging the DLUHC to implement the following:
- Implement the recommendations of the Heads for Tails! Report by AdvoCATS, seeking an amendment to the Tenant Fees Act (2019) to include pet insurance and/or pet deposits as permitted payments. Not only would this amendment provide the necessary protection to property owners, but it would provide further protections for tenants who at present, face surplus rents to be allowed to keep pets.
- Introduce further amendments to the MTA to encourage landlords in England to adopt this tenancy agreement, and also explore how the policy could be extended and subsequently implemented across the UK.
- Extend the MTA to social housing and assisted living facilities, identifying a way to encourage housing associations and private landlords to allow pet ownership for those with disabilities or the elderly.
NOAH is currently undertaking its own research into the experiences of landlords and tenants on the topic of renting with pets. Our research seeks to better understand the most appropriate solution for improving access to pets in rented accommodation, in a way that benefits all parties involved. You can find out more here.