Renting with Pets

Posted in July 2022

Recent research conducted by Battersea highlights the positive benefits of owning a pet, alongisde the Government's latest proposal to update The Tenant Fees Act 2019

Renting with Pets

Earlier this year, Battersea (Dogs & Cats Home) launched a report that highlights the benefits and companionship that having a pet can bring, whilst also pointing out the positive effects it can have on an owner’s wellbeing and mental health.  They are therefore, spearheading a campaign to promote pet-friendly properties in both the private and social rental sectors.

“At Battersea, we know the absolute joy a pet can bring. This is why we want to keep challenging unreasonable barriers to pet ownership. Renting is often one of those barriers, so we’ve launched a new report as part of our ongoing campaign to promote pet-friendly properties in both the private and social rental sectors.” 

The importance of pets 

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, many people experienced feelings of anxiety, isolation, loneliness, and fear, which at such an unprecedented time, proved the positive impact pets can have on the nation’s mental health.  For example, pet-owners are 60% more likely than non-pet owners to build support networks in their neighbourhoods and get to know other local people. 

The research conducted by Battersea showed that pet-owners make 15% fewer visits to their GP, which translates as £2.45 billion a year savings to the overstretched NHS.

The research by Battersea also found that rescue animals were an important source of support during the first national lockdown in 2020, with 91% of dog owners and 89% of cat owners saying that their pets helped them cope during those difficult and lonely times. 

However, the pandemic also uncovered how unfair barriers to keeping a pet can exclude whole communities from the positive benefits of pet ownership. 

New research also identified that stroking your pet cat or a dog for just 10 minutes can significantly reduce your stress levels and improve cardiovascular health.  As a result of this, cat owners are reported to carry a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.

Patricia Pendry, an associate professor in Washington State University’s Department of Human Development said: ‘Just 10 minutes can have a significant impact. This is exciting because the reduction of stress hormones may, over time, have significant benefits for physical and mental health.’

Renting with pets

In the UK, 4.6 million households (23% of all households) rent their home from 2.6 million private landlords in the private rental sector (PRS). But in 2021, it was reported by Zoopla that for a nation of animal lovers, only 7% of those landlords listed their properties as suitable for pets.  

The traditional role of the PRS was to provide easy access to housing. Tenants aimed to leave privately rented properties relatively quickly to move into long-term housing in the social or owner-occupier sectors. However, over the years, housing requirements have evolved and tenants are now staying longer in private rentals than they did before.  Increasingly, there are more households that include families with children in the PRS, of which many are pet owners.  Which has resulted in a bigger demand for pet-friendly accommodation in the sector for families with children and pets. 

What Battersea’s report found

The report discovered that demand for pet-friendly accommodation in the PRS continues to increase, with 43% of tenants owning a pet and a further 33% aspiring to own a pet now or in the future. This suggests that 76% of tenants are impacted by landlord pet policies and these restrictions on pets could be problematic for around 3.6 million households in the UK alone. Three in four tenants are believed to be looking for somewhere they could potentially live with a pet.  Which is increasingly becoming a situation for landlords to consider.  

The discussions Battersea had with landlord organisations revealed a willingness and constructive attitude towards pet ownership. The general landlord consensus was that tenants should be able to keep a pet in rented accommodation unless there were reasonable grounds for refusing requests. The key obstacles that were raised related to concerns that pets could cause damage to their property and furnishings; a lack of practical guidance on what safeguards should be considered and in place when renting to tenants with pets; the limited ways of providing security for the landlord.  

Latest legislation proposal

So, pet-owners were overjoyed with the recent news that the UK Government has proposed updating a model tenancy agreement to allow tenants to keep pets by default.  This connects the The Tenant Fees Act 2019 and The Dogs and Domestic Animals (Accommodation and Protection) Bill.

The Tenant Fees Act 2019 is proposed for amendment so that landlords can request tenant’s pets are fully insured, meaning that damage to property is likely to be covered by the pet’s insurance policy.

The Renters Reform Bill white paper details changes that will make it easier for tenants to keep their pets with them when they move to rented accommodation and to request prior to viewing that they are allowed to have pets as part of the tenancy, the white paper dictates that pet insurance will be a permitted tenant payment in this transaction.

This will mean therefore, that having your pet fully insured allows a landlord to feel more comfortable letting their property to a pet-owner and reassured that any damage incurred by the pet will be covered financially.

The details in the bill that covers renter’s pets runs alongside the proposed Dogs and Domestic Animals (Accommodation and Protection) Bill and is currently awaiting parliamentary approval.   The later bill suggests that renters have the right to keep a domestic animal in rented or temporary accommodation, that all cats and dogs must be microchipped and introduces ‘Certificates of Responsible Animal Guardianship’.

The certificates will be issued following a responsible ownership test conducted by a registered vet, this will include:

  • Suitable Vaccinations
  • Microchipping for cats and dogs
  • A dog’s ability to respond to basic commands
  • Regular Worming and Flea Treatments

As well as the certificate providing landlords with security and peace of mind, it will also ensure good levels of animal welfare for pets.

The Government says they will encourage a “common-sense approach” and believe that “alongside greater security and quality, these proposed measures will help tenants truly feel like their house is their home”. This latest proposal will also provide the necessary reassurances needed by landlords who have had reservations or concerns about potential damage caused to their property.

Practical advice from Battersea

Battersea are also looking at pulling together a toolkit for tenants and landlords that feature practical tips to help more people to have constructive conversations about how responsible pet ownership can be supported in appropriate properties.  The animal rescue service charity has committed to sharing this information to all the relevant parties once it has been compiled.

David Brett – Managing Director, David Andrew “I have been a pet-owner myself for many years.  After our beloved 12-year-old Boxer Sid passed away 2 years ago, we welcomed Teddy (pictured) into the family, so I know first-hand the positive impact a pet can have.  However, there still needs to be a realistic approach about the potential damage caused to property by pets.  It is therefore, important that pet-owner tenants take responsibility for any such damage caused by their pets.  Which is why this latest government proposal to update The Tenant Fees Act 2019 will be welcomed by most landlords seeking reassurance when renting to a pet-owner.”



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