Thank you for contacting me about pets in rental accommodation.
I share your view about the importance of the Renters (Reform) Bill and the changes it seeks to make to the private rented sector. I certainly agree that pets make excellent companions and are an important part of the lives of millions of people across the country.
It is my belief that landlords can benefit from making their property open to tenants with pets, as this can encourage increased demand, lead to longer tenancies and attract more responsible owners. I therefore welcome that, through the Renters (Reform) Bill, the Government will give tenants the right to request a pet in their home, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse. While it is not possible to legislate for every situation where a landlord would or would not be able to 'reasonably' refuse a pet, landlords will be required to fully consider all requests for pets on a case-by-case basis.
It is important to keep in mind that landlords have the right to protect their properties from damage and are required to comply with health and safety standards, meaning they may not allow pets in all cases. To make it easier for landlords to accept pet requests, the Government is proposing amending the Tenant Fees Act 2019 so that landlords may ask that tenants take out pet insurance to cover any damage to the property.
The Government is legislating to create a new Private Rented Sector Ombudsman with whom tenants will be able to escalate disagreements. The Ombudsman will provide fair and impartial advice. I am assured that the Government will be publishing guidance for landlords and tenants before these new rules come into effect.
Already, a model tenancy agreement has been published that can be used for lease agreements to remove restrictions on responsible tenants with well-behaved pets. Under the model agreement, consent for pets is the default position, and landlords will have to object in writing within 28 days of a written pet request from a tenant and provide a good reason.