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Should landlords permit pets in rented homes?

Friday 16 February 2018

Calls for tenants to be allowed to keep a dog or a cat in their rented homes have received a sceptical response from landlord bodies.

A Labour party pledge to introduce legislation allowing renters to have a pet by default, providing they do not cause a nuisance, has sparked concerns about potential damage to property and gardens. 

Tenants can request permission to have a pet and landlords can refuse on the grounds of the animal’s size, the damage it could cause, its impact on future rental prospects and the potential extra cost of repairs.

MP Sue Hayman said: "Recognising that currently for the majority of people under 30, buying a home is sadly less and less of an affordable option, Labour would seek to improve the rights of renters to own pets that do not cause a nuisance."

But Richard Lambert, of the National Landlords Association (NLA), explained that around half of landlords say they are reluctant to allow renters to keep pets due to a perceived added risk of damage to the property, and the increased costs of repair the end of a tenancy.

While the NLA has supported schemes encouraging landlords to take on pet owners, such as the Dog’s Trust’s ‘Lets With Pets’, it also believes that landlords should have a right to refuse permission so long as they justify their decision.

Mr Lambert said: "For example, common properties such as high rise flats or those without gardens, may simply not be suitable for keeping some animals nor beneficial to their welfare.

"However, tenants who keep pets do tend to stay for longer periods of time, and there are a few simple steps that landlords can take in order to mitigate the perceived increased risks, such as by inserting specific clauses and policies into their tenancy agreements."

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) is seeking greater clarification and said details are needed as to whether landlords could charge higher deposits where pets are in the home to cover the added damage risk.

"Labour will need to respond positively to all these points if landlords are to have confidence in this suggested policy," an RLA spokesperson added.

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