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Could pets be the key to successful lets in 2023?

about 1 year ago
Could pets be the key to successful lets in 2023?

Discussing lets with pets in January is very apt. Chinese New Year falls on the 22nd of the month – traditionally celebrated by assigning one of 12 animals to another year (it’s the rabbit in 2023).

The year ahead could be monumental for landlords and tenants. It’s widely accepted that the Government’s A Fairer Private Rented Sector white paper will be adopted before the end of 2023 – and that means renting with a pet will be made easier. 

Reluctance to rent to pet owners

Research indicates that private tenants are animal lovers living in a pet-reluctant rental sector. The results of a 2022 survey by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme Charitable Foundation found 38.6% of tenants had a pet in their rental property, but only 47.9% of tenants admitted to being allowed a pet as part of their tenancy agreement.

The anti-pet sentiment is reflected on the other side of the lettings equation as well. The English Private Landlord Survey 2021 – the most recent published by the Government – found that 45% of landlords were unwilling to let to tenants with pets.

Pets force tenants to move

With such statistics in evidence, it comes as no surprise that renters are willing to move home in order to live with a cat or dog. The Deposit Protection Service undertook its own research on the matter of lets with pets. When questioned in 2022, 30% of renters who moved property between October 2021 and March 2022 had done so to specifically accommodate a pet. For comparison, only 7% of renters cited pets as the most significant influence over their decision to move in 2021.

Tenants leaving one rental property in search of a pet-friendly alternative is something landlords need to consider in 2023. Finding new tenants involves time and money – check out, check in, inventories, referencing and potential void periods, so keeping happy tenants in place – perhaps even those with pets – is sensible.

Domestic animals, damage & a different approach

A major pet deterrent among the landlord community, however, has been damage caused by animals but it’s actually a bit of an urban myth. Steve Harriott, the CEO at the Tenancy Deposit Scheme has publicly said it doesn’t see a lot of disputes involving pets specifically.

Persistent reluctance surrounding pets may be forcibly eradicated anyway. The adoption of A Fairer Private Rented Sector white paper will correct much of the negativity surrounding tenants with domestic animals. 

Pet-specific details in the Government’s white paper include:-

  • Legislation that ensures landlords do not unreasonably withhold consent when a tenant requests to have a pet in their home’
  • The right for tenants to challenge landlords who refuse to let with a pet
  • An amendment to the Tenant Fees Act 2019 to include pet insurance as a permitted payment, which should offset potential pet damage

The changes detailed in the white paper are a step up from the Government’s current stance on lets with pets. In 2021, it altered its Model Tenancy Agreement to say: “landlords will no longer be able to issue blanket bans on pets. Instead, consent for pets will be 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.”

For now, the Government’s Model Tenancy Agreement isn’t mandatory when agreeing a new let. Landlords are free to adapt what is suggested or create a bespoke tenancy agreement, which we suggest should always be done in tandem with a professional letting agent. We are monitoring the introduction of the white paper and will report any specific details that clarify whether landlords will retain the right to refuse tenants with pets. 

Our lettings team frequently receives requests from cat and dog owners. Please get in touch if you have a pet-friendly property to list.

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