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Can Landlords Charge Extra for Pets?
With under 10% of landlords across the UK opening the doors of their rental opportunity to renters with pets in 2020, it’s no wonder that it can be a struggle to find a home for you and your furry friend.
With the introduction of the new model tenancy agreement in the opening months of 2021, UK renting legislation took aim at landlords that had historically maintained a blanket pet ban in all of their rentals, essentially preventing pet owners from letting their accommodation. With the new model tenancy agreements, the “default position” of a tenancy is to allow pets, with the landlord having a 28-day period in which to object.
If a landlord does not wish for a tenant to bring their furry friend into the rental property, then they must be able to provide the tenant with sufficient grounds for doing so, typically seeing owners demonstrate that bringing a pet into their property would be impractical either due to the size of the rental or allergies.
Landlords have commonly been opposed to pets within their rentals due to the increased likelihood of damage to appliances, upholstery and furnishings, alongside their inability to take an increased security deposit from the tenant to cover this greater risk; seeing some owners resort to charging their tenants “pet rent”.
How Much Is Pet Rent?
Before the introduction of the tenant fees act in 2019, which removed many of the traditional fee’s renters would incur when moving into a rental property, landlords would commonly charge tenants a that wished to rent alongside their pets a one-off fee of around £150. This would then be used to ensure that the property was clean before the next tenants move into the rental, alongside covering for any additional damages or wear caused by the pet.
The tenant campaign group has revealed that since the implementation of the act landlords have instated “pet rents”, charging the occupants of the property between £25 – £50 on top of their rent each month, costing tenants up to £600 more each year.
Former campaign manager of Generation Rent, Georgie Laming commented that “this is the wrong approach from landlords. Tenants with pets are more likely to want a stable, long-term home, which will benefit the landlord. Tenants are already paying their deposits and are liable for damage at the end of the tenancy, this is where landlords can charge for damage from pets, not through hiking up rents.”
Pet Deposit for Rental Properties
More recently the blame for such a small number of landlords being receptive of tenants bring along their pets, has been attributed to the tenant fees act, a piece of legislation enacted in 2019 intended to make renting more accessible. A 2016 study showed that the number of landlords willing to accept tenants alongside their pets was an astonishingly high 64%, especially when compared to the dismal 7% seen last year.
At the time many rental property owners condemned the tenant fees act for reducing their ability to financial safeguard themselves from problem tenants, as the amount they are able to request their renter’s pay for a security deposit was capped. Under these new regulations in most cases landlords could charge no more than five weeks rent for the tenancy deposit, doing little to quell the fears of landlords that may have to deal with multiple months’ worth of missing rent, alongside the costs of any repairs come the end of the fixed term.
MP Andrew Rosindell stated that the act “has clearly been harmful to the cause of greater pet ownership for renters,” whilst suggesting that landlords should be able to ask their occupants for an additional pet deposit, should they wish to bring their animal companions along with them.
Are Pet Deposits Legal?
However, these reforms to the Tenant Fees Act were quickly dismissed by Housing Minister, Eddie Hughes, stating, “The tenant Fees Act 2019 introduced a cap of five weeks rent for properties with an annual rent below £50,000, and banned most letting fees charged to tenants. The five-week cap should be considered the maximum, rather than the default amount charged. This approach should therefore accommodate private renters who wish to keep pets, without the need for a separate pet deposit.”
Landlords are prohibited from requesting the occupants of their rental property pay an additional deposit in order to move in with their pets, resulting in many now charging “pet rent”.
Why Do Landlords Not Allow Pets?
Although pet owners may be able to enjoy renewed freedom in their choice of rental opportunities, landlords have historically relied upon the same common justification for refusing pets into their rentals, or simply adopting a blanket ban across their portfolio. Typically, the majority of these rationally can be related to the additional cleaning that would have to take place at the end of a tenancy in preparation for the new occupants. This additional cleaning is often justified through lingering smells and excessive hair alongside the expected additional damage and wear that will come to the property and its contents. Proving particularly horrifying to landlords is the eventuality of allowing a tenant to bring in a single pet, only to find during a routine inspection that the resident has used this permission to introduce an entire farmyard to the property.
Can a Landlord Say No to Pets?
As previously mentioned, although the introduction of the tenant fees act may have been enough for the overwhelming majority of landlords to dismiss the thought of letting out their property to pet owners, with the implementation of the new model tenancy agreement, pet loving tenants can finally bring along their animal companion for each step of their rental journey. As can be expected however, whilst tenants have been granted renewed powers to let with their furry friends, to afford owners no control over their investment, more specifically who resides within their property, would be met with an uproar to say the least. With this in mind landlords are able to reject any application a tenant makes to let out the rental opportunity alongside their pet. In order for this objection to be valid the owner of the rental property must voice their concerns within 28 days of the tenant making it clear they wish to rent with their pet. However, the landlord must be able to provide legitimate reasoning for the objection, with the size, or layout of the rental property often being cited as this could be too small for larger animals, or be a flat on higher floor, making ownership impractical.
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