January 2020 saw the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, announce plans to publish a revised model tenancy agreement to remove restrictions on responsible tenants with well-behaved pets. Once revised, this shall be used as the basis for lease agreements and replace the current model which outlines that ‘tenants must not keep any pets or other animals at the property without the prior written consent of the landlord which must not be unreasonably withheld’.
Renegotiating Terms of the Leash
Over the next year, the Government will look to find an appropriate balance between tackling the issue prospective tenants encounter when looking to rent a pet friendly home and protecting the Landlords rights to safeguard their property from damage.
Clarity on whether this will affect both freehold and leasehold properties will also become clearer in the coming months. Will private Landlords still have overall discretion? Will Landlords currently bound by Head Lease agreements, preventing them from giving permission to tenants, be overruled? A statement from the Ministry of Housing said total bans on pets
“should only be implemented where there is good reason, such as in smaller properties or flats where owning a pet could be impractical”.
Despite almost 50pc of the Nation having a pet, only 7pc of rented homes permit them at present. As the demand for rental properties grow, so does the market for pet friendly homes and the need for participating Landlords. The majority of pet owners are law-abiding people. They look after their pets responsibly. Despite this a recent study by the Dogs Trust found that 78pc of pet owners experienced difficulty in finding accommodation accepting pets, with 54pc never able to find a suitable property and 8pc having to re home their pet altogether.
Pets and Benefits
The Housing Secretary voiced that
“Pets bring a huge amount of joy and comfort to people’s lives, helping their owners through difficult times and improving their mental and physical well-being. So, it’s a shame that thousands of animal-loving tenants and their children can’t experience this because they rent their homes instead of owning property.”
By adopting a pet friendly approach, Landlords could reap the rewards that a pet could bring too. Dogs are a good form of security as they tend to respond badly to strangers. It’s also a good hook to find long term tenants. Good tenants are likely to take care of the property in order for the tenancy to be renewed.
Tenancy Fees Act 2019
There’s no doubt that both sides have a responsibility to protect the property. As part of the Tenant Fees Act 2019, the tenancy deposit figure is capped and dependent upon the total annual rent for the property. If the total annual rent is less than £50,000, landlords and agents are only permitted to ask tenants to pay up to five weeks’ rent. As a result, some Landlords have been charging premium rental amounts. This is a way to secure more money should their property become the victim to unruly pets causing damage.
So, what can be done to reassure the Landlords and open up more opportunity to tenants?
First and foremost tenants should be upfront about their pet. Offer references from previous Landlords who can offer first-hand experience. The references can advise whether the tenant is a responsible pet owner, commenting on the pet’s behaviour and if they caused nuisance to neighbours or damaged the property. Veterinarians can shed light on whether the tenant provides routine preventative health care such as vaccinations and flea treatments. Your appointed TTA Relocation Coordinator will be able to support you in preparing the appropriate documentation as part of the relocation service.
Landlords can protect themselves by using a comprehensive tenancy agreement which will shield them from most scenarios. A pet clause should be incorporated within such an agreement. This clause should outline the permission and include specific details of the animal such as type, breed, name etc. Taking out appropriate insurance to cover for accidental damage caused by the tenants’ pet is also recommended. And preparing a pet policy to set out the conditions under which the tenant may keep pets at the property.
Each party should instruct an independent inventory clerk to prepare a thorough inventory report at both the beginning and end of the tenancy. These reports will document and photograph the condition of the property and will be invaluable when discussing dilapidations.
Whilst the Government were successful in banning unfair letting fees and capping tenancy deposits in their mission to improve life for tenants, it seems they are going to have to listen closely and understand the concerns of both Landlords and Tenants alike in order to build upon a strong foundation for future growth in this area.
To be continued …