According to Government data, only 7% of properties on the UK rental market are advertised as pet-friendly.
This figure is not surprising, perhaps, given that landlords have historically felt they are unable to put in place sufficient protection for their properties against any damage they fear pets may cause.
Yet, despite the number of properties advertised as pet-friendly declining in recent years, new research from the National Office of Animal Health (NOAH) shows that landlords are not actually as against pet ownership in rental properties as might be assumed.
As part of its ‘Renting with Pets’ campaign, NOAH undertook three-month long surveys with both landlord and tenant groups, asking a range of questions to understand how pet ownership in rentals could be achieved, and to learn of previous experiences from both groups.
NOAH’s recently published report found that whilst landlords have concerns about renting to tenants with pets, 28% of landlords were in favour of improving access to pets in rental properties if better protections for landlords are introduced, whilst a further 18% supported access to pets in rental properties generally.
A further 53% stated that pet ownership is important, compared to only 3% who stated it was not.
Perhaps the most telling finding from the survey was that 70% of landlords felt that more protections need to be in place for landlords that do allow tenants to keep pets.
One respondent said that the Tenant Fees Act (2019) – which restricts landlords to take a five-week maximum deposit in all cases – had meant they were unable to continue letting to pet owners as this deposit simply would not cover the costs associated with pet damage if caused.
This sentiment was echoed in the Heads for Tails! report by AdvoCATS in 2021, which found that one-in-five landlords who previously allowed pets, no longer do as a direct result of the Tenant Fees Act being introduced.
When discussing the measures that would help landlords feel comfortable renting to tenants with pets, the NOAH report explains that appropriate options could include allowing an increased deposit to be taken to specifically cover pet damage (34%), charging tenants an increased rental rate or ‘pet premium’ (24%) or allowing an insurance policy to be taken out to cover damage caused by pets (17%).
The ability to retain the option to choose whether or not to allow pets was important to many according to the report, which highlighted that landlords sometimes do not allow pets due to concerns about the suitability of a specific property for pet health and wellbeing, as opposed to misgivings about pets in general.
NOAH is among many who welcome the proposals from the long-awaited Renters Reform White Paper that includes plans to allow tenants to request to own a pet in a rental property, which under new rules, landlords cannot unreasonably refuse.
In an effort to better protect landlords against potential pet damage, the White Paper also proposes to reform the Tenant Fees Act (2019) to enable landlords to request tenants to purchase pet insurance as part of their rental agreement, a measure that was supported by 17% of respondents to NOAH’s survey.
NOAH chief executive Dawn Howard said: “Owning a pet has significant benefits for human health – both physical and mental – yet it has historically been very challenging in the UK to rent with a pet in private accommodation.
“Despite what is believed, our own research has shown that many landlords are not necessarily against allowing pets as long as their assets are protected. This finding backs up the changes being proposed in the Renters Reform White Paper and should encourage the Government to move forward with the proposals at pace.”
Mrs Howard continued: “The additional protection set to be introduced will ensure that responsible pet owners can keep a pet in their rental home, meanwhile landlords can rest assured that any pet damage that may be caused during the tenancy is covered through a pet insurance policy.
“In all, the Government’s proposed rental reforms represent a positive move for responsible pet owners in the rental sector, and a win for landlords who can now widen their pool of rental tenants whilst being fully insured against any potential pet damage.”
To view the report, click HERE.