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

Annette Smith Lettings

11:46 AM, 29th March 2021
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by PJB at 27/03/2021 - 10:24
Would it be possible for the tenant to agree to pay the addition cost of the pet insurance.
I have spoken to many insurance companies who do not offer this type of cover ?

PJB

12:18 PM, 29th March 2021
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Annette Smith Lettings at 29/03/2021 - 11:46
I don't think so. It would be seen as an additional charge connected to the tenancy which is now prohibited. It is the reason why it needs to be planned for ahead of time and included as part of the rent. Any (local) rebate for acceptable pet behaviour can be negotiated with the tenant as and when necessary.

Annette Smith Lettings

12:25 PM, 29th March 2021
About 2 weeks ago

I recently experienced a tenant that had moved in to one of my rented properties. Within 3 months in they wanted to get a puppy, so I was in a dilemma as the rent had been set without agreeing to a pet would I have been able to give a rent increase ?

Richie

12:25 PM, 29th March 2021
About 2 weeks ago

Surely the AST could state pets allowed subject to the owner having suitable pet insurance that covers damages etc. And must be in force during the term of the tenancy.
How is that an additional charge? No different to the tenant have health insurance or accident insurance.

Richie

12:26 PM, 29th March 2021
About 2 weeks ago

Surely the AST could state pets allowed subject to the owner having suitable pet insurance that covers damages etc. And must be in force during the term of the tenancy.
How is that an additional charge? No different to the tenant have health insurance or accident insurance.

Richie

12:27 PM, 29th March 2021
About 2 weeks ago

Surely the AST could state pets allowed subject to the owner having suitable pet insurance that covers damages etc. And must be in force during the term of the tenancy.
How is that an additional charge? No different to the tenant having health or accident insurance.

PJB

12:31 PM, 29th March 2021
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Richie at 29/03/2021 - 12:26
The problem will be if the tenant revokes or fails to renew the insurance. What can the landlord do other than threaten the eviction process. The reports of evictions costing £10,000 or more and taking upwards of a year is a very heavy price to pay.

Annette Smith Lettings

12:34 PM, 29th March 2021
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Richie at 29/03/2021 - 12:26
The AST stated that pets would be considered and permission not unreasonable withheld, however I checked with several different insurance companies including the landlords insurance cover but no cover was available. Therefore the pet was not accepted for this tenancy, which caused a lot of stress particularly as the tenants had already put a deposit down for the puppy. The tenants in their opinion believed that the governments new ruling on pets was that landlords could not refuse

PJB

12:44 PM, 29th March 2021
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Annette Smith Lettings at 29/03/2021 - 12:34
Thank you. You have nicely summed up the dilemma.
Until pet damage insurance cover becomes more widely available, the idea of charging a higher initial rent coupled with (local) rebates for acceptable pet behaviour seems to be the most acceptable solution for all concerned.

Jessie Jones

20:15 PM, 29th March 2021
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by PJB at 29/03/2021 - 12:18
I think caution should be exercised before taking a higher rent with the intention of giving a rebate for acceptable pet behaviour. This sounds like a re-worded additional deposit, so would have to be held in one of the government approved schemes and the total deposit must remain capped at 5 weeks rent.

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