Tenancy deposit cap could leave pets out in the cold
The new cap on tenancy deposits could result in pets being barred from rental properties entirely, the National Landlords’ Association (NLA) has warned.
Landlords who allow tenants to keep pets often demand a higher deposit to cover any potential damage. But the draft tenants’ fees bill, set to be implemented in spring 2018, will stop landlords and agents from asking tenants to make any payments as a condition of their tenancy.
Landlords will be able to charge tenants a security deposit, but only up to a maximum of a month’s rent, while the holding deposit will be capped at a week’s rent. They will still be allowed to charge default fees for late payment of rent.
The proposals, first announced in November’s autumn statement, were confirmed in the Queen’s Speech. The idea was to tackle unfair fees on tenants to make the private rental market more affordable and competitive - but as a side effect there could be gloomy repercussions for the nation’s much loved cats and dogs...
A spokesman for the NLA said: “While not the intention, the Government’s plans for imposing this one-month cap on security deposits will reduce landlords’ willingness to accept pets by removing their flexibility to take a higher deposit to cover for pet damage.
“Previous research from the NLA showed that almost half (47 per cent) were unwilling to allow pets, with 41 per cent of those citing the reason as potential property damage.”
Landlord and spokesperson for the Midland Landlord Accreditation Scheme (MLAS), Mary Latham, said: “I have accepted tenants with pets for years, because a home is not a home without a pet. I have never had to withhold monies from deposits because of issues caused by those pets, and my tenants stay longer because they feel more at home.
“I am so angry that this will force many landlords to rethink the risk and prevent pet owners from renting nice homes. Government are so out of touch with the reality of the lives of those who they are meant to represent.”
“The problem is that most landlords insurance policies will specifically exclude damage by domestic pets,” says Alex Huntley, Head of Operations at Simple Landlords Insurance. “Dogs and cats can quickly ruin carpets, chew up sofas and skirting boards, dig up gardens, and scratch curtains and furniture - and all that can be expensive for landlords. Making provision for that sort of damage in the deposit was a way for landlords to protect themselves.
“Moving forwards, landlords might want to consider tailoring their tenancy agreements to specify the areas pets are allowed into - for instance keeping animals out of the living room when no one is at home with them. I’d highly recommend regular inspections to keep an eye on any damage. These can be then be relaxed or moved to twice yearly if pets are proving to be reliable.”