Pets in housing – UK changes

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The UK Housing Secretary has recently (January 2020) called upon landlords to make it easier for responsible tenants to have well behaved pets in their homes.   More people than ever before are renting, but in the UK, only 7% of landlords advertise homes as suitable for pets. Some renters have been forced to give up their pets.  UK Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP has announced that the government’s model tenancy contracts for renters, which can be used as the basis for lease agreements, will now be revised to remove restrictions on well behaved pets. The government states that there should be a balance with responsible pet owners not being penalised and landlords being more flexible in their approach, and it is right that landlords’ properties should be protected from damage by badly behaved pets. The government press release can be viewed here.

IAHAIO member organizaion, SCAS, has been working tirelessly over many decades to encourage housing providers to adopt positive pet policies. They welcome this development but are concerned that it will not be effective without legislation.  Debbie Rook is a law lecturer in Northumbria University in the UK, specialising in animal welfare law and housing law. She has presented at SCAS conferences and comments:

“Yes, it is a positive step because the government are expressly recognising the importance of pets to people and how traumatic it is to have to give up a pet when moving into rental housing. This is good news. However, merely changing the wording in the model tenancy agreement will not do much on its own. The current model tenancy agreement includes a pet covenant that permits pets with the prior consent of the landlord, but many private landlords just remove the covenant and add a blanket ban on all pets instead. Without legislation like that in France and Ontario, many landlords will still include blanket bans on pets. Still, it is a step in the right direction, and I agree that it should be used to promote discussions about the topic”.

Read more about SCAS here.

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