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Pets are a Big Concern for Landlords in the Wake of Renters Reform Bill

May 20, 2024 PR Officer

As landlords across England brace themselves for the implementation of the Renters (Reform) Bill, Leaders Romans Group (LRG) has unveiled findings from a recent landlord survey, highlighting significant concerns among landlords about pets in rented properties.

According to Statista 57% of UK households had a pet in 2023. However, it introduces a host of challenges for property maintenance, tenant relationships, and building management.

The Renters (Reform) Bill proposes comprehensive changes, including the abolition of “no-fault” evictions under Section 21, the introduction of a “lifetime” deposit system, and, notably, provisions for tenants to request permission from their landlords to keep pets. While these changes aim to offer more stability and security for tenants, they raise significant questions about the impact on landlords and the management of their properties.

LRG’s survey, which took into account responses from landlords and tenants across England, indicates a palpable apprehension. 56% of landlords predict negative impacts due to the Bill’s approach to pet ownership in rental properties; in contrast, only 9.81% see a positive impact. This concern surpasses even the potential effects of abolishing Section 21 evictions, demonstrating the magnitude of the pet policy issue within the private rental sector.

56% of landlords perceive the impact of the “right to request a pet” as positive for tenants, whereas 16% view it as negative, and 16% believe it will make no difference. Only 10% are unsure of the impact. Interestingly, tenants were less concerned about pet ownership; 68% said when they last moved, they didn’t ask to keep a pet, as they didn’t own one. 18% asked and were accepted, 9% had difficulty but did find somewhere to rent, and only 2% said they had difficulty and therefore, didn’t get a pet.

Allowing tenants to request permission to keep pets would require a change in tenancy agreements and acknowledges the importance of pets in people’s lives.

Commentary gathered from landlords echoes this sentiment, with one landlord noting, “ownership of Dogs in flats [is] negative unless [there is] outside space – barking can be a problem!!” Another adds, “Don’t think people should be able to have dogs more easily – they are destructive if left alone, damage gardens, but most importantly, can create difficulties with neighbours as so many bark for long periods.” A third comment reflects a broader concern: “Better for tenants but re the pets, more constraints on landlords trying to maintain decent standards of property.”

Kim Lidbury, Group Director, Property Management at LRG, underscores the complexity of the situation, “The introduction of pet-friendly policies in rental agreements is a nuanced issue that requires careful consideration to balance the interests of tenants with those of landlords. Not all property types may be suitable for pets, for instance flats within blocks and properties without gardens. The Third Reading of the Bill recently included a mandate that tenants either maintain insurance to cover potential pet damage or compensate the landlord for the reasonable cost of obtaining such insurance. This is a positive step forward which does seem to address landlords’ concerns while also enhancing the lives of tenants and their pets. However more detail is still required to ensure that pets can only be requested in an appropriate property.

“LRG is dedicated to engaging with both landlords and tenants to navigate these legislative changes effectively. By leveraging insights from the landlord community and advocating for balanced policies, LRG aims to contribute to a fair and sustainable rental market that meets the needs of all parties involved.”

Anyone wishing to read the full report of landlord and tenant sentiment can download it here