Government expects pets to ‘act in a tenant like manner’?

by Readers Question

11:17 AM, 22nd March 2021
About 3 weeks ago

Government expects pets to ‘act in a tenant like manner’?

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Government expects pets to ‘act in a tenant like manner’?

Most AST agreements now contain a clause similar to “Not keep any animals, reptiles, insects, rodents or birds at the Property without our written permission (which will not be unreasonably withheld)”. With the government wishing to encourage greater flexibility in the approach to pet ownership, two issues are of concern to landlords:

1. Housing Minister Christopher Pincher said in Parliament recently:
“A good reason for a landlord to decline a pet ownership request would be where a pet is demonstrably poorly behaved or unsuited for the premises in question, for example, a large dog in a small flat, or where other tenants have allergies to animals”.
Later, he added:
“The landlord should accept such a request where he/she is satisfied the tenant is a responsible pet owner AND the pet is of a kind that is suitable in relation to the nature of the premises at which it will be kept”.
My concern is how can a landlord decline a pet ownership request before the pet has been installed and demonstrated poor behaviour?
Similarly, how can the landlord satisfy him/herself that the tenant is, or should we more properly say ‘will be’, a responsible pet owner without prior evidence?

2. The deposit is meant to recover costs at the end of a tenancy due to the actions of the tenants, their children and other named persons. At a later date, the government expect pets to be included within the deposit amount with no permitted increase to the deposit or permit an additional (pet) deposit. It would be safe to argue that the government expect pets to act as a human, in other words; ‘to act in a tenant like manner’, to cause no additional damage or costs against the deposit.

The latter point, I believe, is of the greatest concern to most landlords.

The proposal I wish to put up for discussion is this:
At the start of the tenancy, assume that a pet will occupy the property that is not that well-behaved and, at the end of the tenancy, there will probably be a need to replace carpets, redecorate walls, fumigate and so on. If the rent is set with scenario in mind, the idea is to explain the rent to your prospective tenant(s) adding that should the tenant(s) not want to keep pets then a formal or informal discount will be given against the rent.

Will this work legally?
Are there any account or Self Assessment implication?

PJB

Comments

Ron H-W

11:45 AM, 22nd March 2021
About 3 weeks ago

As for "account or Self Assessment implication", there shouldn't be any if the discount-for-not-having-the pet/s-after-all is detailed in the tenancy agreement.
This should also avoid complications later, e.g. misleading impression of rent payable if HB becomes relevant -- or if tenant at first says "won't have the pet after all, then" and later changes mind.

Disclaimer: IANAL - and I'm not an accountant either!

Dylan Morris

14:11 PM, 22nd March 2021
About 3 weeks ago

Just say no pets if that’s what you want as a landlord. There’s no law to make you accept them. (Just the same as saying no smokers).

NEIL T

17:41 PM, 22nd March 2021
About 3 weeks ago

It's great for us responsible landlords to accept pets. But we need to check them out as we would a tenant. Visit the house where the pet currently resides. You'll soon see whether it's of the variety that you'd like in your property. Aim to get invited in and see how the pet reacts to you. Also, take a deep breath and see if the house is smelly.
Additionally, you could give the neighbours a knock and see if they've been disturbed by said pet.

Roberta Goodall

0:48 AM, 23rd March 2021
About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Dylan Morris at 22/03/2021 - 14:11
But then what do you do when you've had a great tenant for 13 years with very few problems, always pays rent, loves the flat and then suddenly introduces a cat? You only find out about said cat because you go to measure up for a new carpet. It's been there a while, no damage visible. What do you do? I said what a lovely cat and left.

NEIL T

5:44 AM, 23rd March 2021
About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Roberta Goodall at 23/03/2021 - 00:48
You did exactly the right thing, Roberta

Dylan Morris

9:36 AM, 23rd March 2021
About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Roberta Goodall at 23/03/2021 - 00:48
I’d do the same.

PJB

9:57 AM, 23rd March 2021
About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Roberta Goodall at 23/03/2021 - 00:48
What you describe is probably the best scenario. The situation could easily be much worse with the said cat fraying small corners of each carpet in the property or 'peeing' here and there so that at the end of the tenancy there is a large bill and not enough deposit to cover it.
I am suggesting to plan for this eventuality and offer an incentivising rebate for good pet conduct.
PJB

Jessie Jones

10:02 AM, 27th March 2021
About 2 weeks ago

My experience of tenants' pets is very negative.
One wanted to keep fish. In fairness to the fish, they were very well behaved ones. Couldn't wish for nicer fish. But the repeated floods from his water changes to the tanks upstairs caused the collapse of the ceilings below.
Another wanted to keep a rabbit. Lovely, cute, doey eyed thing. And she let it have the run of the lounge, where it peed in every corner, ruining the carpet and underlay.
And there was the family who had a dog. A well behaved family pet. Mind you, when it became elderly and defecated and peed on the laminate it made the house smell so bad that my tenants had to leave. Well they couldn't be expected to put up with that smell could they. Not only was the laminate flooring ruined, but the floor joists underneath also had to be replaced.
Thankfully, the lady who decided to keep a cat, which soon escalated to 9 cats has managed to rehome 6 of them, so is now down to just 3.
And all of these pets were well behaved.

PJB

10:24 AM, 27th March 2021
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Jessie Jones at 27/03/2021 - 10:02
Your experiences highlight a very important flaw in governmental thinking. Not only are landlords not allowed take extra deposits for pets that don't behave in a 'pet (tenant) like manner' but there is no mechanism to reclaim costs should future disasters occur after permission has been reasonably given to the tenant to keep a pet reasonably assuming there will little chance of a disaster.
Currently, I think the only way to alleviate the burden is to purchase specialist pet damage insurance which will , of course, have to be paid for by the landlord!

Annette Smith Lettings

11:44 AM, 29th March 2021
About 2 weeks ago

Is there an insurance company that will protect landlords against damage that pets may cause ?
I have experienced pets chewing kitchen cupboards and internal doors, also digging holes in gardens etc. The damage can be very costly and unfortunately the deposit does not cover these costs. Whilst rents can be increased to keep pets is this the only way that landlords can protect their properties ?

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