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 has been a significant challenge, and in many cases, not possible at all. Research published by Zoopla in 2021 reported that just 7% of rental properties in the UK are listed as suitable for pets; despite research by Battersea in 2022 finding that 23% of all UK households rent their homes from a private landlord.
The annual English Private Landlord Survey (2021) also found that a massive 45% of landlords are unwilling to rent to tenants with pets. This is unfortunately at odds with the needs and wants of tenants in the private rented sector, with 43% of tenants already owing a pet and a further 33% saying they aspire to own a pet now or in the future, according to research from Battersea.
At NOAH, we are passionate about responsible pet ownership, and therefore we launched this campaign as we felt that the private rented sector needed to change. Our campaign predominantly sought to understand the reasons why landlords do not want to rent to tenants with pets, and to identify potential solutions that would allow landlords to open up their properties to tenants with pets.
What has the Government proposed to do?
The proposals set out in the Government’s long-awaited Rental Reform White Paper will mean that tenants in private rented accommodation with have the legal right to request a pet in their rental property, and landlords cannot unreasonably refuse. The details of what will constitute appropriate reasons for refusal are not yet available, but we expect such reasons to include pet allergies, the property being unsuitable for a pet (too small, no garden) or the impact of a pet on surrounding neighbours.
However, in tandem with this policy, the Government also proposes to reform the Tenant Fees Act (2019) to include pet damage insurance on the list of permitted payments. In 2019, the Tenant Fees Act was introduced to try and minimise costs to tenants in renting from a private tenant; however, the new rules meant that landlords could only charge a maximum 5-week deposit for any property, inadvertently exposing them to additional risk when it came to tenants keeping pets. Research by AdvoCATS found that 1 in 5 landlords who previously let to tenants with pets stopped doing so after the introduction of this policy, as they felt the risk was simply not worth it.
The proposed reform of the Tenant Fees Act is a significant win for private landlords, as they will now be able to require a tenant with pets to take out a suitable pet insurance policy (including pet damage) in order to secure a tenancy agreement. This means that landlords will be adequately covered against potential pet damage, and the risk to renting to a tenant with a pet is significantly reduced.
The Government’s proposals set out a fair and workable solution to the issue of renting to tenants with pets, but at the moment, they remain proposals. It is therefore imperative that pressure remains on the Government to deliver these proposals in full later this year, when the Rental Reform White Paper is passed through legislation.
In order to achieve this, NOAH will be continuing to work with partner organisations to ensure the Government delivers on its commitments, so that responsible pet owners will finally have the legal right to own a pet in a rental property whilst landlords can be properly protected against pet damage.