United Kingdom

Politicians debate pet fees

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Could amending the Tenant Fees Act pave the way for pets in rented homes?

Earlier this month, a cross-party group of MPs called on the government to allow landlords to charge additional pet deposits or require tenants to take out pet damage insurance – both currently prevented by the tenant fees ban. In the letter, which was backed by pet charities, MPs argued that the Tenant Fees Act was generally positive but that amending it would help to increase the low number of pet-friendly properties available on the rental market.

Deposits are currently capped at five weeks’ rent for most residential tenancies, an amount that landlords and agents argue isn’t enough to cover the damage caused by pets. According to Propertymark, 18% of landlords who allowed pets before the ban stopped doing so after it came into force. Just 7% of private landlords now advertise pet-friendly properties.

So far the government has refused to budge. In response to the letter, a minister from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government stated that the current deposit cap is a maximum, not a default amount, and so should be sufficient to allow renters to keep pets. 

However, with more tenants renting until later in life, measures that make rented properties feel more like homes are only going to get more popular. Stats released by Rightmove last month show that searches for pet-friendly homes rose by 120% over the last year, and build-to-rent operators are increasingly making pet-friendliness a selling point.

Outside the government, politicians are listening – and landlords are unlikely to like their solutions. Andrew Rosindell, the MP who organised this latest petition to the government, was also behind the Dogs and Domestic Animals bill – a Private Members’ bill submitted earlier this year that would give “responsible pet owners” the right to keep well-behaved pets in suitable rentals. The Labour Party has also called for pet-friendliness to be the default in the private rented sector. Meanwhile, the new coalition government in Scotland (see previous story) plans to give tenants the right to keep pets whether their landlords like it or not.

Other tenant headlines

Commuter Belt rental shortage as tenants still leave London – Landlord Today

New Acorn branch to take “direct action” against landlords – LandlordZONE

Total amount of rent paid by tenants drops significantly – Property Industry Eye

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