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With the new Renter’s Reform Bill outlining changes to landlords’ abilities to refuse pets, how do your peers feel about the new legislation? We examine the results from our latest research to see what might incentivise landlords to allow pets in their properties.

With the new Renter’s Reform Bill outlining changes to landlords’ abilities to refuse pets, how do your peers feel about the new legislation? We examine the results from our latest research to see what might incentivise landlords to allow pets in their properties.

In both the Conservative’s Renters’ Reform Bill and Labour’s proposed Renters’ Charter, the parties set out to amend landlords’ rights to refuse pets in their properties. Under the new bill, landlords will not be able to ‘unreasonably’ refuse requests for keeping pets. The Government website states that: “What amounts to a reasonable refusal will vary with the circumstances”.

If a landlord does not want to allow the tenant to keep pets, they must now object in writing within 28 days of a written request from the tenant. A ‘good reason’ must be provided in the refusal. Despite this change, landlords can still advertise their properties as ‘no pets’ or ‘no pets considered’.

How do landlords feel about tenants keeping pets?

This proposal has been a contentious issue for property investors since its announcement. With concerns over property damage and noise complaints due to disruptive pets, many landlords are understandably hesitant.

As such, with the changes now likely to come to pass, we set out to understand what, if anything, could incentivise our landlords to allow their tenants to keep pets by asking our social media followers and newsletter subscribers.

What would incentivise landlords to allow tenants to keep pets?

Across the survey itself and our social media platforms, the responses were mixed. Whilst many answered that they already allowed their tenants to keep pets, they also provided their thoughts on what could incentivise the wider sector.

The majority (50%) responded that they would want a larger deposit from tenants with pets. This larger deposit could help to cover the costs of any damage caused when the tenancy ends.

17% voted for the ability to charge higher rents to tenants with pets. With the current supply and demand disparity, landlords are in a position to choose the tenant they want in their property and not have to worry too much over possible void periods. As such, it’s a reasonable request to charge higher for a tenant with a pet that may cause damage to the property whilst in situ.  

A few of you also offered alternative solutions to help mitigate the risk for landlords. These included asking for confirmation that a dog wouldn’t be left alone for the whole working day, while another highlighted how allowing one pet may set a precedent and leave you unexpectedly with multiple pets in your property.

Interestingly, our social media survey results show that 60% view insurance covering possible pet damage as the most significant incentive, followed by 20% voting for larger deposits and 20% charging higher rents.

The differences across our results highlight the need for better support and guidance from the Government with this issue. There are clearly many ways to incentivise landlords into allowing pets, and landlord opinions need to play a key role in the decision-making regarding these legislative changes.

How important is the ability to keep pets to tenants?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the ability to keep pets can significantly influence whether a tenant is interested in your property or not. A report from The Social Market Foundation (SMF) revealed that permission to keep pets ranked fifth on the list of the top priorities for renters when searching for a new home.

Furthermore, according to research by Dogs Trust and Cats Protection in 2021, 46% of landlords said they would allow pets in their properties, despite just 30% of tenants stating their landlord would allow a dog in their property, and 32% cats. And yet, Government statistics reveal just 7% of landlords will market their properties as ‘pet-friendly’.

Clearly, better communication is needed between tenants and their landlords. It may be that a landlord is willing to have a conversation about allowing pets in the property under the right circumstances.

Why might landlords not want their tenants to keep pets?

However, despite tenant priorities and Government plans, there are legitimate reasons landlords may not permit pets in their properties, regardless of an incentive.

A report by Property Mark released in July 2022 found that 85% of landlords and letting agents have incurred damage to their properties by pets. Furthermore, a substantial 57% were unable to recoup the costs of damage caused by pets.

What’s more, just last month, Moverly released a report highlighting the top ten ‘turnoffs’ for prospective home buyers. On the list, an obvious presence of pets was revealed to have the potential to devalue a home by 4.8% and see buyers pay £13,911 below market value for the property.

Timothy Douglas, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Property Mark, commented: “With the demand for pet-friendly homes continuing to increase, the UK Government must now understand the costs involved for landlords and implement rules that support the sector to take on greater risk in order to support more people to rent with pets.”

What can landlords do about the changes?

What we now need from the Government is clearer guidance regarding what is ‘reasonable’ and ‘unreasonable’ when it comes to not permitting your tenants to keep pets. The sector needs better support, whether this means an insurance scheme, a larger deposit, or something different entirely.

The reality is, the Government needs to have better conversations with landlords and industry experts about what will help landlords better support tenants and boost the PRS, not harm it further.

If you would like to speak to an expert about any property finance enquiries you might have, call us on 0345 345 6788, or submit an enquiry here.

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