NOAH formally launched this campaign in April 2021; however, it is an issue we have long been passionate about and keen to address, including it in our 2019 NOAH Manifesto for Animal Health. Momentum is building around the issue – not least by organisations like ours, but also across charity groups, mental health campaigners, landlord groups, and even at Westminster with cross party as well as government support.
What is NOAH currently doing to improve access to pets?
NOAH launched two separate online surveys for tenants and landlords in November 2021, and February 2022 respectively. The purpose of these surveys is to gather information, data and case studies on the experiences and views of both tenants and landlords on the topic of renting with pets. Each survey will run for 3-months, and both have been promoted on social media, our website, directly to landlord and tenant groups and beyond.
Once all of this data has been collected, NOAH will be analysing the results and preparing a policy report, intended to be shared with the Government but also the media and relevant audiences. This report will set out our key findings and subsequent recommendations to the Department for Levelling Up, Communities and Housing (DLUHC) in improving access to pets in rented accommodation in a way that supports both landlords and tenants appropriately.
The Renters Reform White Paper has been delayed until 2022, and we are expecting its publication imminently. Originally announced in the Queens Speech in 2021, the White Paper is set to include several amendments such as abolishing Section 21 (otherwise known as ‘no fault’ evictions) and outlining proposals for a new ‘lifetime’ tenancy deposit model.
NOAH is proud to endorse and support the recommendations set out by Jennifer Berezai in the Heads for Tails! Report, published in September 2021, urging the DLUHC to include a further amendment within the emerging White Paper. The Heads for Tails! Report calls on the DLUHC to make an amendment to the Tenant Fees Act (2019) to enable pet insurance and ‘pet deposits’ to be listed as permitted payments. By doing so, landlords and tenants would be better protected in renting with an animal.
The Heads for Tails! Report outlines extensive research to demonstrate the viability of this amendment, and it has expansive support and endorsement including from several MPs, charities, the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) and Arla Propertymark, amongst many more.
SCAS has raised awareness about the harms caused by no pets in housing rules since its inauguration, and has worked extensively to campaign on the issue. In 2021, SCAS launched its Pets & Housing Campaign which includes 8 funding grants for original research into the impact of pet related housing legislation; stakeholder perceptions of pets and housing insurance schemes; assessments into incident, type and cost of damage caused by pets in housing; and the views of landlords, care institutions or housing association staff in relation to pets and housing.
We are proud to support SCAS, and look forward to the publication of the original research on this issue to support securing the right to rent with pets.
Our Roundtable event in partnership with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cats (APGOCATS) took place on 16 March 2021, bringing together a wide range of stakeholders to discuss this important issue. The session hosted speakers from Generation Rent, National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), Battersea Cats & Dogs, Blue Cross, Dogs Trust, Cats Protection and A-Law. It was also attended by a number of MPs, including Sheryll Murray, Dr Lisa Cameron, Patricia Gibson and Andy Slaughter, amongst others.
The event was successful in representing a variety of views on this issue, encouraging constructive debate on the best approach toward securing the right to rent with pets in a mutually beneficial way. We heard the perspective of landlords and property owners, who stated the need to make responsible pet ownership more convincing to landlords, and emphasised the importance of making pet insurance more affordable so that pet ownership could be more accessible for a wider range of tenants, which we have taken on board. The consensus from the event was that bringing together this wide range of stakeholders was the best way of identifying common solutions to a problem that affects us all.
What progress has been made so far?
Jasmine’s Law was a 10-minute rule bill (a type of private members’ bill) that sought to establish rights to keep dogs and other animals in domestic accommodation and to make provision about the protection of the welfare of dogs and other animals. Campaigning on Jasmine’s Law ultimately contributed to the amended Model Tenancy Agreement, detailed below.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (now DLUHC) published the updated Model Tenancy Agreement in January 2021. The MTA is a step in the right direction, but there is still more than needs to be done to encourage landlords to adopt the MTA, and the MTA must be further amended to include those living in social housing and supported living. We are engaging with Government stakeholders to draw awareness to these issues and to discuss possible solutions. Read more about the MTA here.