Stronger protections needed for responsible renters who own pets, say charities
Better protections are needed for responsible renters who own pets, according to animal welfare charities.
Dogs Trust said it has been receiving a record number of inquiries from people forced to rehome their pets, as they struggle with rising living costs.
Around one in 10 of those owners contacting the charity cite issues with housing as the reason for needing to rehome their dog.
Dogs Trust said this group includes some people being forced to move or downsize as rental prices increase, but who are unable to find suitable, affordable pet-friendly properties.
Meanwhile, Cats Protection said that last year it took in around 1,300 cats – the equivalent of around three each day – due to landlords not allowing them in their properties.
The Government has outlined plans to introduce stronger protection for tenants as part of its Renters’ Reform Bill.
A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities spokesman said: “We know how much people love their pets, which is why we are making it easier for renters to have them in their home.
“We will bring forward legislation (which will apply in England) to, for the first time, give all tenants the legal right to request a pet in their house which landlords must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse.
“This is all part of our wider measures to transform the rental market and provide a new deal for tenants.”
Paula Boyden, veterinary director of Dogs Trust, said: “2022 was the busiest year in our history for relinquishment inquiries.
“Sadly, one of the most common reasons we see dogs handed in to our rehoming centres is due to a change in the owner’s living circumstances and a lack of available pet-friendly accommodation.
“For most dog owners, being separated from their dog is no different from being separated from a family member, so the introduction of new protection for renters will help ensure that fewer owners are forced to make the heart-breaking decision to give up their beloved pets.
“We are pleased to see that the Government has plans to include pet-friendly policies in its Renters’ Reform Bill, and hope to see these rights enshrined into law soon so that the benefits of pet ownership are no longer exclusive to homeowners, but open to renters as well.”
Madison Rogers, head of advocacy and government relations for Cats Protection, said: “Pet ownership should not be a privilege in modern society and Cats Protection is urging the Government to move forward with planned legislation to end blanket ‘no pets’ policies and give renters with pets better protections.
“In the meantime, there are a few things renters looking for a pet-friendly property can do: start looking for pet-friendly housing early, proactively ask letting agents or landlords if they allow pets even if it says ‘no pets’ on the advert, and create a ‘pet CV’ outlining the measures you will take to be a responsible pet owner, such as providing veterinary records and details of your pet’s behaviours.”
Dogs Trust said it has been providing advice and resources to pet owners, landlords and letting agencies through its Lets With Pets scheme.
Cats Protection also operates its Purrfect Landlords programme, which provides advice to tenants, landlords and social housing providers on how to conduct discussions aimed at keeping cats in rented properties, with further information available at cats.org.uk/purrfectlandlords.
Chris Norris, policy director for the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), said: “We recognise the importance of pets for many tenants and, specifically, the strong sense of companionship they provide to their owners.
“Our biggest concern has always been that the law, as it currently stands, prevents landlords from making it a requirement that tenants take out insurance to cover the risk that their pets will cause damage to the rental property. Given this, we welcome the Government’s plans, which will enable landlords to ask pet owners to have the required insurance to cover such damage.
“As ministers continue to work on the Renters’ Reform Bill, it is vital that the law takes a common-sense approach to pets in private rented accommodation.
“It needs to reflect the fact that some properties, such as flats without gardens, may not be suitable for certain types of pets. Likewise, in shared homes, the rights of those wanting a pet need to be balanced with the rights of fellow tenants who might have concerns, especially those with certain allergies.”