Can landlords refuse pets in a rented property?
05 January 2024
Renting a property for you and your pets can be hard. Recent surveys reveal that while 57% of us own pets, just 7% of properties are advertised as ‘pets allowed’ and 45% of landlords say they’re unwilling to let to tenants with animals.
Is it illegal for landlords to say “no pets allowed”?
While it’s not illegal for landlords to include a ‘no pets’ clause in their tenancy agreements, the law can be unclear and as a renter with pets to care for it’s not easy to know what your legal rights are.
In this blog, we look at the current situation and how the Model Tenancy AgreementOpens in a new window and Renters (Reform) Bill set out more freedoms for tenants with pets.
Common reasons for landlords refusing pets
Landlords have many reasons for not allowing pets in their properties.
The most common are:
- Wear and tear to the property – a recent report by industry trade bodiesOpens in a new window Propertymark and the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) found that 85.3% of landlords have had their property damaged by pets and most (57%) were unable to recoup the cost.
- The cost of insurance due to add-ons for pet damage – the same report discovered that only 0.5% of landlords were able to claim the cost of pet damage through insurance.
- The pet is not suitable for the property. For example, a dog is too large for the home or you have too many pets.
- Pets causing a nuisance for neighbours.
- Irresponsible owners who fail to clean up after their pet.
- Infestation from pests such as fleas and ticks.
- If the property is a leasehold, then the freeholder might forbid pets in their agreement with your landlord.
The impact of the Renters Reform Bill
The new Renters (Reform) Bill aims to deliver safer, fairer and higher quality homes for tenants. It includes new rules for ‘pets in lets’, making it easier for you to find a place to live by increasing the number of pet-friendly homes.
Introduced to parliamentOpens in a new window on 17 May 2023, the bill is not yet law but includes some good news for pet owners:
- Landlords will no longer be able to issue a blanket ban on tenants living with animals. Under the new rules, tenants will have the right to ask the landlord for permission to live with pets at the property.
- The landlord must consider your request to live with pets and cannot “unreasonably” refuse. If they do say ‘no’, you can challenge their decision
- Tenants must tell the landlord or the letting agent in writing that they have insurance for their pets, or that they are willing to pay “reasonable” costs to cover the landlord's insurance in case of damage.
- A landlord must decide if you can keep a pet at the property by the 42nd day after the date of the request. This can be extended by a week if a landlord asks for further information.
The new rules will be implemented in two stages, with at least 12 months between the first and second date. You can find out more about the new rules on the government’s websiteOpens in a new window
What can I do if my landlord refuses my pets?
Until the Renters (Reform) Bill becomes law, landlords can ban you from keeping pets at their property. If you want to keep a pet, you must have your landlord's written permission to do so.
You should also be aware of the Model Tenancy AgreementOpens in a new window (MTA), the government’s recommended contract for landlords that exists to help renters with well-behaved pets. However, it’s not a legal requirement and it’s your landlord’s decision whether they use it. The MTA says consent for pets is the default position, and landlords have to object in writing within 28 days of a written pet request from a tenant and provide a good reason.
The landlord could choose to increase your depositOpens in a new window to cover any potential damage caused by the pet, but that deposit still can't pass the deposit cap as outlined in the Tenant Fees Act 2019Opens in a new window
The new Renters (Reform) Bill says landlords will be required to fully consider all requests to keep pets at their property and can only refuse if it’s “reasonable”. But what does this mean?
When is it reasonable for a landlord to refuse a tenant having a pet?
Sometimes it’s reasonable for a landlord to refuse a request to keep a pet at their property, such as when:
- the property is too small for a large pet,
- another tenant has a pet allergy, or
- in leasehold properties, the freeholder might have introduced a 'no pets' clause, preventing anyone who lives there - a buyer or a renter - from keeping a pet in the property.
What to do when a landlord unreasonably refuses pets
So what is your next step if your landlord doesn’t allow you to have a pet, and you don’t think the reason behind the decision is fair?
If you feel that your landlord has unreasonably refused your request, you can contact the Private Rented Sector Ombudsman or take the case to court.
The Ombudsman or court will make the final decision based on the evidence provided by you and your landlord.
Finding rental properties that allow pets
Finding a home for you and your pets means looking in the right places. Many of us search for a property online and websites allow visitors to filter search results by "pets allowed".
If you find a place you like, you should speak to the landlord or letting agent. If you’re a responsible pet owner and are looking for a home or are already living at the property and want to own a pet, you should put any request in writing.
Be prepared for the landlord to ask for a larger rental deposit to cover potential damages from having a pet.
Avoiding issues when renting with pets
Getting the go ahead to keep a pet in the home you rent is exciting, but there are some things you should do to make sure you keep as much of your deposit as possible.
It’s important to clean up after your pet, and do what you can to keep your pet quiet when your neighbours are sleeping.
When it comes to renewing your tenancy, if your landlord has a lot of complaints about your pet they could give this as a reason for no longer allowing pets.
If your pet does damage the property, it’s best to tell your landlord and arrange a repair before you move out of the property to avoid expensive deposit charges at the end of the tenancy.
Find out more about your other rights as a tenant
You need your landlord’s permission to live with pets in a rented home, and you should always put your request in writing. It can be helpful to make all contact with your landlord via email or letter, so you have a record of what’s been said.
With more than half of us in the UK owning pets, your landlord might be an animal lover and understand how important your pet is to you. It’s worth asking them to see if you can reach an agreement.
The better news is that new legislation – the Renters (Reform) Bill – has been designed to make renting with pets easier. However, the Bill is not yet law and could take over a year to come into force.