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Tenant Fees Act Reduced Number of Pet Friendly Rentals
New findings have been unveiled as a report published by the pet charity AdvoCATS has been backed by over 35 members of parliament, alongside numerous landlord associations, pet charities and organisations such as Propertymark, detailing the impact of the 2019 Tenants Fees Act on those that are looking to rent alongside their pets.
The government themselves have reported that a mere 7% of landlords in the UK advertise their rental opportunities and suitable for pets, with 55% maintaining a blanket ban on renters bringing their furry friends with them. Since the implementation of the Tenant Fees Act in 2019, 18% of UK landlords that offered pet friendly rental accommodation has stopped doing so, equating to one in five landlords and somewhat lending an explanation to the drought of rental property owners willing to open their doors to pets.
The M.P. for Romford, Andrew Rosindell explained in a forward in the report that, “This is a deeply undesirable situation for all involved: for landlords, who miss out on excellent tenants; for tenants who face sometimes insurmountable obstacles to bringing their beloved pet into rented properties or else never acquire one at all; and for the pets who get abandoned, or are never adopted, and miss out on the loving home they deserve.”
Andrew went on to say that although the Tenant Fees Act 2019, “had good aims… it has certainly been harmful to the cause of greater pet ownership for renters.” Seeing the M.P explain that this hindrance to a growing number of pet friendly rentals is “because the law prohibited landlords or letting agents for requiring pet insurance and failed to include pet deposits in the list of permitted payments. This has seriously reduced options for landlords, who have a much-reduced safety net for instances of pet damage. As a result, it has also reduced options for tenants.”
Lending further criticism of the reception pet renters have historically received, Alison Glennon, Communications Manager at the National Office for Animal health stated that, “we believe that responsible pet owners should not be excluded from the ability to share their life with a companion animal because of their living situation, and pets should not be excluded from having loving homes due to restrictive tenancy agreements.”
Alison furthers this by stressing that changes must be made to existing legislation, specifically the Tenant Fees Act, for any progress to be seen in the sector, saying the regulations should, “allow landlords to require pet insurance in order to permit pets in their properties. An alternative permitted payment could be a “pet deposit” with its own cap, to offer landlords a choice of measures that would encourage them to allow pets.”
The open letter states that these amends to standing regulations would benefit both sides of the tenancy agreement, giving landlords the protection over their investment properties, whilst making private renting more accessible.
Naturally, calls for new insurance policies raises the question of who will be covering the associated costs. The report explains that this would fall on renters as they would be able to benefit from taking out such policies and taking advantage of a no claims history they may accumulate; however, it does also acknowledge that landlords with a sizable portfolio may wish to cover all their properties under a single policy, making a variety of options essential for its successful implementation.
Similarly, research carried out by The Tenancy Deposit Scheme showed that rental property owners are reluctant to allow pets into their accommodation without first having appropriate measures in place to safeguard their investments. The polls showed that 65% of landlords would increase the amount of rent their tenants are required to pay if they were forced to accept a pet into their property, with an overwhelming 75% of landlords expressing the need for pet insurance to become available to both renters and owners.
What is the New Model Tenancy Agreement?
Changes were introduced to the new model tenancy agreement during the outset of 2021, allowing “responsible tenants with well-behaved pets will be able to secure leases more easily.” Although the regulation takes aim at the section 21 notice and tenancy deposits, the new model tenancy agreement also makes major steps towards making the rental industry more receptive to pets, prohibiting landlords from issuing a blanket ban on pets in their accommodation. With this being said, as it currently stands the new model tenancy agreement is not legally binding and does not in any way legally compel landlords to follow its direction.
Housing Minster Chris Pincher commented, ““it can’t be right that only a tiny fraction of landlords advertise pet friendly properties and in some cases people have had to give up their beloved pets in order to find somewhere to live.”
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