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Revised tenancy agreement unveiled to help renters with pets

The new government guidelines mean that consent for pets will be the default position.

Words by: Nic Hopkirk

Senior Editor

The government has revised its standard tenancy agreement to make it easier for ‘responsible tenants with well-behaved pets’ to rent a home.

Under the amended model tenancy agreement unveiled by the government on 28 January, consent for pets will be the default position.

This means that landlords who opt for this particular tenancy agreement - the government’s recommended contract for landlords in England - will no longer be able to issue blanket bans on pets.

While landlords are not legally required to accept pets, the government hopes they will adopt the position.

Why have the changes been introduced?

Figures show that more than half of adults in the UK own a pet and many more are welcoming pets into their lives during the pandemic. But just 7% of private landlords currently advertising pet friendly properties, the government said.

Housing minister Christopher Pincher MP explained: “This strikes the right balance between helping more people find a home that’s right for them and their pet while ensuring landlords’ properties are safeguarded against inappropriate or badly behaved pets.”

Plans to revise the model tenancy agreement to allow for pets were first announced in January 2020.

What are the current rules for renting with pets? 

Landlords are able to ban pets by inserting clauses stating that renters cannot keep them. 

If a pet is allowed, landlords may also put in additional clauses to the agreement related to owning a pet, such as making sure it doesn’t foul in the garden or inside the property, not leaving it alone in the property for too long and cleaning the property thoroughly before the end of the tenancy.

Any damage to the property or extra cleaning that needs to be undertaken should be dealt with by the tenant. If it isn't, the landlord may deduct these costs from the tenant's deposit at the end of the tenancy.

What does the updated model tenancy agreement mean?

Under the latest changes to the model tenancy agreement, if a landlord objects to the tenant having a pet, that should only be made where there is good reason, such as in smaller properties or flats where owning a pet could be impractical.

It should also be given in writing, within 28 days of a written pet request from a tenant.

Tenants will continue to have a legal duty to repair or cover the cost of any damage to the property. A responsible pet owner will be aware of their responsibilities in making best efforts to ensure their pet does not cause a nuisance to neighbouring households or undue damage to the property. 

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