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MPs Pressure Government To Overhaul Pets In Rental Homes Law After 1-in-5 Landlords Ban Animals

4 min read

Exclusive: More than 30 MPs representing all major parties have signed a letter urging housing secretary Robert Jenrick to amend legislation to enable more tenants to live with pets.

Under the 2019 Tenant Fees Act, which was introduced to crackdown on landlords imposing extortionate deposits and fees, property owners are prohibited from requesting pet insurance from renters hoping to live with animals.

The Act also forbids landlords from charging separate pet deposits, leading many to instead either impose a blanket ban on animals or ramp up rent for pet owners.  

Now, MPs have mounted a new campaign to amend the law so landlords can request insurance or charge a pet deposit in an effort to reduce blanket bans and make it easier for people to get pets in a rented property. 

A letter from Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell outlining the proposals, which have the backing of Labour’s Andrew Gwynne, Green MP Caroline Lucas and Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey, will be delivered to the housing secretary today.

Rosindell, a long-time advocate of restricting landlords’ abilities to issue no pet policies, told PoliticsHome: “Good governments recognise and rectify errors no matter who made them. In the case of the Tenant Fees Act a good piece of legislation erred in its neglect of tenants who own pets, placing unnecessary obstacles in their way. 

Rosindell said his suggested policy change has the support of both tenant and landlord organisations, as well as by pet charities, all of whom have signed the letter. 

"It is supported by Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem, SNP and Green Peers and MPs," he added.  

"The question I ask the Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick, is simple: why wait any longer?”

A new report from the non-profit organisation AdvoCATS, who have partnered with Rosindell to lobby Jenrick on the issue, details that one in five landlords stopped allowing pets in their properties after the Tenant Fees Act was passed two years ago.

Only 7% of landlords currently advertise their properties as pet friendly. However, demand for animal friendly rentals has increased by 120% since summer last year, largely as a result of more people adopting pets during the pandemic.

Jennifer Berezai, a co-founder of AdvoCATS and author of the report 'Head For Tails', told PoliticsHome: “If lockdown has shown us anything, it is that company and interaction are integral to our wellbeing, and to some people, that’s achieved via pet ownership.

“Recent research indicates that over half of tenants would be willing to take out pet damage insurance if it meant they could keep their pets or adopt a new one, and more than three quarters of landlords favour such options being available. 

“We have a chance now to change the law and make renting with pets easier and fairer for all.”

Signatories to Rosindell’s open letter are calling on Jenrick to use secondary legislation to add pet deposits to the list of permitted payments under the Tenant Fees Act.

The group believes that a simple vote in the Commons should be sufficient to issue in lawful change.Andrew Gwynne, co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cats, and SNP MP Lisa Cameron, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Dog Advisory Welfare Group, have also  backed Rosindell's campaign. 

Discussing his reasons for supporting amending the Tenant Fees Act, Gwynne said: "As a proud pet parent, I'm proud to be backing this cross-party campaign. I know first-hand just how much joy pets bring, and the fantastic effect they have on your mental and physical wellbeing. It doesn't make any sense to exclude renters from these benefits. 

“By making this small change to the Tenant Fees Act – which is supported by tenants and landlords alike – we can make a real difference to renters across the country who are desperate to bring a beloved pet into their home."

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government told PoliticsHome: “Our changes to the Model Tenancy Agreement will help make it easier for tenants with pets to rent privately by removing restrictions on responsible tenants with pets and encouraging landlords to offer greater flexibility.

“They aim to strike a balance between protecting landlords’ property from being damaged by badly behaved pets, whilst ensuring responsible tenants are not unfairly penalised.”

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