0:02 AM, 23rd June 2023, About 8 months ago 28
It may be good news for our furry friends that under the Renters’ Reform Bill they might be allowed in rented properties, but what does this mean for landlords?
The proposed rules mean that landlords cannot reasonably refuse a request to have a pet in the property.
How will this work and what does it mean for insurance? This Property118 investigation looks at how the new rules will affect landlords and what this means for our furry friends.
The Renters’ Reform Bill says landlords will be required to fully consider all requests on a case-by-case basis.
A landlord must give or refuse consent in writing on or before the 42nd day after the date of the request, although there are some exceptions detailed in the Bill.
Chris Norris, policy director, of the NRLA told Property118 that the government must provide greater clarity to landlords on what grounds they can refuse a pet.
He said: “It still remains unclear as to the exact grounds on which landlords can refuse to let to tenants with a pet, so the government must provide greater clarity on this point.
“Until we receive further clarity from the Government, we advise landlords to show flexibility wherever possible when liaising with tenants on the question of whether to allow pets in private rental properties.”
Propertymark says that the government must take into account the suitability of the property.
A spokesperson told us: “Propertymark will continue to make the case that the ability for landlords to not allow tenants to rent in certain properties must be based on suitability such as taking into account the type of pet and property type.”
If a tenant disagrees with the landlord’s decision or believes that the landlord has ‘unreasonably’ refused, the tenant will be able to choose to escalate their enquiry to the new property ombudsman.
Cats Protection says that last year it took in around 1,300 cats – the equivalent of at least three cats each day – due to landlords not allowing them in their properties, making it the eighth most-cited reason as to why cats are given up to the charity.
Cats Protection’s head of advocacy and government relations, Madison Rogers, said: “For too long, renters have been denied the chance to own a pet cat simply because they rent rather than own their home.
“These new proposals will finally give renters the chance to experience the comfort, joy and companionship that comes with owning a cat, along with the security of knowing they can feel settled in their rented home.”
She added: “We were pleased to join up with our friends at Dogs Trust to highlight to politicians why these new proposals are so important to millions of people.
“We are looking forward to continuing to work with the government to ensure the proposals give more renters the chance to finally own a pet in a way that is fair and affordable for all.”
While building his property portfolio, Mark Alexander, the founder of Property118, would conduct checks on tenants with pets to make sure the property was suitable.
He said: “What I am interested in with dogs is seeing the tenant’s previous house and any tell-tale signs like chewed shoes, chewed doors etc.
“If I get there and the pets are running wild, wrecking the property and snarling at me whilst I’m filling in the application forms, it’s an easy decision to make.”
However, Mr Alexander says some of the best tenants he’s ever had have owned pets.
He explains: “My personal experience is that people with pets move less often, perhaps because it’s so hard for them to find another landlord who accepts pets.
“We are a nation of animal lovers, and many people would go without food to make sure their pets are well cared for.”
Mr Alexander continued: “The best story I have was about a single lady in her 30s and when I went around to do the application I looked around and I said I thought you had two dogs.
“She said yes and introduced me to her Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs. These two dogs were so well-behaved, let me stroke them and laid at my feet.”
He added: “She was one of the best tenants I’ve ever had.”
People with pets may now find it even harder to find somewhere to rent as landlords plan to hike rents to deal with pets.
The survey by Mortgages for Business found only a small percentage of landlords currently market their properties as ‘pet-friendly’.
The same survey also found 75% of landlords will raise rents to deal with pets.
Jeni Browne, a director of Mortgages for Business, said: “Government statistics suggest only 7% of landlords currently market their properties as ‘pet-friendly’. This is not an accident.
“It’s expensive to be a landlord to tenants with pets: they can damage properties and can lower the market value of a property.”
What will now happen to insurance especially when a pet could damage a property?
Under the Tenant Fees Act 2019, a landlord cannot require a tenant to enter a contract with a third party to provide a service or insurance related to the property.
As part of the Renters’ Reform Bill, the government will amend the Tenant Fees Act 2019 to include pet insurance as a permitted payment. This means that landlords can require pet insurance to cover any damage to their property.
Under the reforms, agents and landlords who consent to the tenant keeping a pet must inform the tenant in writing that either:
The government says: “In the very rare cases where the insurance and deposit do not cover the cost of the damage, a landlord could take the tenant to court to recoup additional funds in line with wider rules in the sector.”
Propertymark told Property118 that the UK government must make sure that there are suitable providers that offer pet insurance.
Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns, at Propertymark says: “As was highlighted by Propertymark and others, one of the unintended consequences of the Tenant Fees Act and the cap on deposits is that landlords have become more risk-averse to allow a tenant to rent with a pet.
“This is not surprising when our research in July 2022 uncovered that 57% of 537 surveyed landlords and agents were unable to recoup the costs of pet damage.”
He added: “The UK Government must also ensure that there are adequate providers to offer pet insurance and where the tenant takes out the insurance cover, the provider must be able to underwrite non-payment if the policy is cancelled by the tenant before the tenancy ends.”
The Association of British Insurers told Property118 that landlord and home insurance policies don’t protect you against accidental damage but sometimes can be included as an add-on.
A spokesperson said: “Most standard landlord and home insurance policies won’t protect you against accidental damage caused by pets, but it can be included as an add-on.
“We would always recommend shopping around to find the best policy that meets your needs, not just based on price. If you’re not sure what your policy includes, speak to your insurer who should be able to help.”
Whilst the Renters’ Reform Bill claims to make it easier for tenants to rent with pets, many will find it even more expensive.
And while there are positive stories of landlords letting to pet-owning tenants, rising costs and uncertainty in the PRS means our furry friends may find it even harder to find a place to live than they do now.
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