Pet owners who rent welcome sweeping changes in landlord reform bill

Animal lovers are ‘delighted' at proposed changes to the law to make it easier for people renting their homes to keep pets.

Under current law, landlords can ban tenants from keeping pets such as cats and dogs in privately rented properties.

Part of the Government's Tenants (Reform) Bill, which passed second reading on Monday night, aims to ensure that landlords cannot “unreasonably” block tenants' requests to have pets.

Cats Protection, the UK's largest feline charity, said it was “welcomed” by the news, which brings “pet-friendly renting one step closer for millions of Britons”.

“We are delighted to see this important piece of legislation take a step forward,” said Maddison Rogers, the charity's head of advocacy, campaigning and government relations.

“This bill has the potential to finally give renters the right to request a pet, safe in the knowledge that their request cannot be unreasonably denied.”

If passed, the new law would allow tenants to challenge unfair decisions while allowing landlords to require insurance that covers pet damage.

The bill aims to ensure that landlords cannot “unreasonably” block tenants' requests to have pets.

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The National Residential Landlords Association is calling for “full guidance” on when landlords can refuse animals and fears “tenants and landlords will be left in limbo with the prospect of inconsistent decisions from the courts”.

In a report published last week, the Department for Levelling, Housing and Communities' committee said a landlord could refuse a pet if it was “clearly too large for a small property” or if another tenant in a shared house had pet allergy.

Dogs Trust, the UK's largest dog charity, previously welcomed the bill, saying it was “excellent news for pet owners who rent”.

MPs said they expected tenants and landlords to “just have a conversation about what makes sense”.

But the Renters Reform Coalition, which represents renters' groups, said people should be allowed to keep whatever pet they want – regardless of what the landlord thinks.

“Once a tenant signs an agreement, it's their house,” he said.

“If they want to have a pack of Great Danes living there, that should be their right, but they will also be responsible for the costs if the dogs tear the place up,” Tom Darling, the coalition's campaign manager, previously told the Guardian .

“Our research shows that there are one million households in the UK who would like to get a cat but can't because of restrictive policies, so we will be pushing for this bill to move quickly so it can start helping owners, cats and welfare charities.”

According to Pet Food, around 57 per cent of UK households (16.2 million) are home to 38 million pets.

Although the number of pets is up from 35 million last year (up 9 percent), there has been a decline in the percentage of households with a pet, from 17.4 million (62 percent) in 2022.

Alongside a 6 per cent decline in the dog and cat populations, which now stand at 12 million and 11 million, 13 per cent (3.7 million households) admit to having given up a pet in 2022, with this figure rising to 28 percent among young owners. 16 to 24 years old).