The UK Government has announced changes to the Model Tenancy Agreement to enable tenants with ‘well-behaved pets’ to secure a tenancy more easily.
On 28 January 2021 the Ministry of Housing, Communities and local Government released an updated version of the model tenancy agreement. The revision focused mainly around pets. The Government wants landlords to permit pets, so the model agreement now defaults to allowing responsible pet owners as tenants. Tenants will still have to seek permission, but landlords will not be able to ‘unreasonably’ refuse or delay responding. A response is due with 28 days.
In the past landlords would consider pets on the condition that a larger deposit was taken to allow for any extra damage due to the pet. However the revision makes clear that despite the presence of pets the deposit can still not exceed the deposit threshold in the Tenant Fees Act 2019: five weeks’ rent for rents up to £50,000 and sex weeks’ rent over this level.
The key change only means that the banning of pets can only happen where there is a good reason (such as large pets in smaller properties or flats, or other properties where having a pet could be impractical). The point of the revision is to encourage landlords to be more open to pet-owning tenants but to be clear landlords will not be forced to accept a pet if they do not want to, the landlords will still have the final say. Tenants will also continue to have a legal duty to repair or cover the cost of any damage to the property.
Further to this last year Andrew Rosindell MP introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill (Private Members’ Bill) entitled the Dogs and Domestic Animals (Accommodation and Protection) Bill.
The Bill proposes that pet owners pass a test of responsible ownership by obtaining a certificate from a vet before moving in, confirming that they have a healthy, well-behaved animal and are considered to be a responsible owner. A responsible ownership checklist for a dog for example would include vaccination and microchipping and being responsive to basic training commands. There are also appropriate rules applying to other animals.
Furthermore, microchipping is a key element of the Bill, which will stipulate that all cats and dogs kept in rented accommodation must be microchipped. Part of the approval process for a pet to be moved into accommodation would be to have their microchip scanned by a vet to ensure that they were registered on a national database.
The new default position on tenancies will be to accept pets, however the landlord will still have the final say
For full details and live updates on the model tenancy agreement click here