Huge changes are on the horizon for the private rental sector, recently outlined in the white paper “A Fairer Private Rented Sector”. It covers the proposals for the Renters Reform Bill. One big change proposed is for tenants rights to keep pets in a property. This is welcome news for many tenants but a clear concern for some landlords.
Why the Concern from Landlords?
Many landlords think of pets as a risk; a risk of causing damage to their property, disturbing neighbours, or bringing infestations of fleas into a home! This is understandable as a property is an investment, and not a small one at that. So it’s only fair that a landlord wants to ensure their property is well looked after when let to tenants.
It used to be the case that landlords would increase the security deposit on the property, to provide some extra protection where there would be a pet living in the home. However, the Tenant Fee Ban Act 2019 removed this option for landlords by limiting security deposits to 5 weeks’ rent. This subsequently meant there was a huge drop in properties on the rental market that allowed pets. For example, in 2020 only 7% of Properties were advertised as being suitable for pets.
However, it’ll no longer be so easy for a landlord to place a blanket ban on pets in their property. Tenants will now have the right to request a pet in their home. And that request, cannot be unreasonably refused by their landlord.
How can Landlords Deal with the Risk?
This development in the law for tenants rights to keep pets is likely to be daunting for landlords across England. Undoubtedly, they will have less control over whether any furry friends will be living in their property. A primary concern being if a pet causes damage valued greater than the value of the security deposit. The only remedy available to a landlord then, is to issue a claim against the former tenant for this cost. The issue of the claim, in itself, can be time-consuming and costly – plus there’s no guarantee losses can be recovered.
However, landlords have not been left without any solution. It is expected that the Tenant Fee Ban Act 2019 will be updated so that pet insurance becomes a permitted payment. This means that landlords will be able to require tenant pet owners to take out pet insurance so that any damage to their property is covered. Insurance therefore seems to be the answer. The other option of course is to increase rent…
Focus on Paperwork Compliance
Although the amendment to the Tenant Fee Ban should put landlords’ minds at ease about allowing pets, this development in the law should also come as a prompt to ensure your paperwork is in check before renting a property to a pet owner. It is imperative to have a comprehensive inventory report done on the property, providing both photographs and descriptions so that the condition of the property is clear at the start of the tenancy. It is also advisable to use the same company to come back and do the check-out report once the tenant vacates. This way, if there is any damage caused and this matter becomes disputed, you have a clear comparison of the condition of the property when it was let out, and when vacant possession was given.
Get Helpful Legal Advice
If you have encountered damage to your property and you would like some advice about potentially pursuing your former tenant, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Woodstock. Their friendly team are experts in debt recovery and will be happy to chat through any questions you may have.
By Eleanor Trapaud, Trainee Solicitor at Woodstock Legal Services