Upcoming changes in legislation regarding tenants keeping pets in residential premises

Upcoming changes in legislation regarding tenants keeping pets in residential premises

13th December 2022

The current position for tenants having pets in residential premises is that a blanket ban on pets is allowed. It’s common for landlords to take this stance because they can be concerned about potential damage the pet(s) may cause. As it stands, landlords can refuse a request for a pet without any justification.

However, the Renters Reform Bill which has been discussed in Parliament since 2019 is being implemented to ensure renters are treated fairly and can allow tenants to treat their house as their home.

One of the proposals allows a tenant to request a pet, which the landlord must consider and not unreasonably refuse. If the landlord refuses consent, they need to provide good reason.

Landlords, quite rightly are concerned about pets causing damage, and so for reassurance, a landlord can , if permission is granted, require the tenant to either take out pet insurance or home insurance to cover any damage caused by the pet. There is however some uncertainty as to how this will work in practice.

The Dogs and Domestic Animals (Accommodation and Protection) Bill proposes the following:

  • An outlaw on blanket bans and will enable tenants to live with pets
  • Owners of the pets must obtain a certificate of responsible animal guardianship
  • Dogs must be vaccinated and microchipped
  • Dogs must respond to commands by owners

A landlord can refuse if:

  • The tenant doesn’t have a vet’s certificate
  • The owner is unable to responsibly care for the pet
  • The welfare of the animal is threatened by keeping it in the property
  • The animal is in danger or causes a private nuisance to others in the vicinity
  • If they hold a certificate of exemption

There are however quite a number of uncertainties such as:

  • Whether it applies to multiple pets or just one.
  • What would be required for a landlord’s refusal to be considered unreasonable?
  • What process if required for the landlord’s refusal and tenant’s challenge to that refusal. For example, will there be a formal process to follow?
  • Will the landlord have a wide range of power to force the tenants to get pet insurance?
  • Its also not clear as to how the new legislation will interact with any leasehold restrictive covenants regarding pet bans.

The proposed changes will be welcoming for tenants who wish to have a pet in their family home. It will also grow the rental market, and landlords may get more interest in their property if they allow tenants to keep a pet. On the other hand, though, landlords will be concerned about damage to their property, and also how the proposals will work in reality.

When will the changes apply?

The removal of the blanket ban will only apply to tenancies after the Renters Reform Bill is published. All existing agreements will not be affected by the change, until the fixed term becomes periodic, or a new tenancy is entered.

When will the Renters Reform Bill be introduced?

There have been many delays on the publication of this bill since 2019 and this has been put down to covid, and parliamentary changes. However, the bill is a certainty, and some think it will be released in late 2023.

If you would like us to review your tenancy agreements and ensure that you are up to date with the legislation changes when they are announced, or have any questions arising from this, please do not hesitate to contact us.