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Government to revise model tenancy agreement -removing restrictions on tenants with ‘well behaved’ pets

Victoria Barker
Written by Victoria Barker

The Housing Secretary has announced plans to revise the Government’s model tenancy agreement to allow for “well behaved pets” in properties.

The Government says that the plan, announced at the weekend, will ensure that more landlords are catering for responsible pet owners wherever possible.

Commenting on the plan, Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick MP said:

“Pets bring a huge amount of joy and comfort to people’s lives, helping their owner’s through difficult times and improving their mental and physical wellbeing. So, it’s a shame that thousands of animal-loving tenants and their children can’t experience this because they rent their homes instead of owning property.

“So, I’m overhauling our model tenancy contract to encourage more landlords to consider opening their doors to responsible pet owners. And we will be listening to tenants and landlords to see what more we can do to tackle this issue in a way that is fair to both”.

The government’s model tenancy contracts for renters can be used as the basis of lease agreements made with tenants.

It is important to note that this initial action does not make it a legally binding requirement for landlords to accept pets, and that landlords still hold the right to refuse tenants with pets.
The Government’s other plans for the private rented sector

The Queen’s Speech, which took place last month, contained some other key announcements relating to the private rented sector, including:

  • A commitment to scrapping Section 21
  • Plans to improve the current Section 8 process
  • The introduction of lifetime deposits for tenants
  • Plans to continue to develop and implement measures to wider access to and expand the scope of the database of rogue landlords and property agents giving greater powers to drive improvements in standards, and empowering tenants to make an informed choice about who they rent from.

When the plans were first announced the RLA warned ministers they must make sure landlords have confidence in the repossession system post Section 21, or there could be a mass sell-off by landlords, making it harder for tenants to find a place to live.

About the author

Victoria Barker

Victoria Barker

Victoria is the Communications Officer for the RLA.

She is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and media review, and creating social media content. She also contributes to our members magazine, Residential Property Investor.


  • Rules are becoming onerous and are totally one-sided. After being a Landlord for over thirty years I would not recommend anyone to join this sector and most definitly not to rent to anyone on benefits.
    Personally I will not rent now unless the potential tenant has someone who is a property owner stand Guarantor for them.
    It is my intention to sell my portfolio of properties as I do not want my children to inherit the problems that they bring with them.
    For me the intention that we must allow tenants to have pets, the limited deposits we can take, the ridiculously slow and expensive legal recourse and finally the scrapping of Section 21 have brought me to this decision.
    I currently have a case going through the courts where a tenant has arrears of rent and damage and legal fees totalling £10,000 and I have endured many a loss.
    This is my living, I am a very responsible Landlord bur enough is enough.
    Ill leave to to the rogue and unscrupulous Landlords as the government seem determined to oust respectable ones.

    • I completely agree. After 25 years as a responsible landlord, I too have had enough of being dictated to by successive governments who implement knee jerk reaction legislation without considering the full implications of their actions.
      I still can’t see how a “lifetime deposit” will work, when the last day of the tenancy is the final inspection when deductions may be identified and would take days after that to have the balance repaid, depending on the tenants reactions. The new landlord would want their deposit paid no later than the start of the new tenancy, so it isn’t transportable. I would certainly want to know about any deductions made from a previous deposit as this is how the tenant obviously conducts themselves and would influence my assessment of them.

    • Hi Gary,

      completely understand your frustration. The sector can be dubious at times. If you are considering selling your portfolio I would be interested in taking a look?

  • I totally agree with the sentiments of the last post.
    I too have been lulled into helping with tenant with a “docile pet dog “ on two occasions to find carpets ruined , gardens full of excrement and general damage to doors and skirting boards ( animals left home alone.!)
    Costs ran into thousands to get the property back to a high standard again.

    I too am selling up after 20 years of renting a small portfolio, to leave all these problems to larger concerns.
    Sad days when we have offered excellent accommodation for those who can’t afford a home to buy, to be hit in every direction .what have good land lords like me ( and hundreds more) done to deserve all of these financial hits ( tax etc etc ) . Time to move out of BTL……it’s a sad day

  • Hi, I’m waiting to see what the government are going to create as a “balance of fairness“ although I’m very dubious to see if it ever happens. Having recently gone through a court case with 2 of the worst tenants on the planet who cost me over £6000 in damages and legal fees I was astounded when the judge awarded me the damages only and absolutely nothing towards my legal costs that were considerably higher than the damage element of the claim … so I won the battle and lost the war. The bulk of the damage was caused by the tenants unruly dogs and their cats which had sprayed in every room throughout the property and the level of cleaning and disinfecting if the entire house was both costly and time consuming.
    I get repeatedly asked by tenants wanting to keep pets which after the last experience I have always denied and will continue to do so regardless of any crackpot government proposal . It’s about time that these so called rule makers appreciated who actually owns the property! In my view it’s the landlord who agrees or disagrees who inhabits his property and should a court instruct me otherwise on my investments then that is the time I’ll sell the lot
    On another note, it’s apparently ok for Council to keep a database of bad Landlords. What is the stance regarding a database of bad tenants as there’s a few additions I would like to add ?

    What’s the latest news regarding electrical testing of rented property ?
    I understand that a property should be electrical safety tested to help prevent the possibility of a fire caused by bad or worn circuitry however what’s to stop a tenant buying a dodgy toaster or other electrical appliance that could instigate a fire ? I don’t recall hearing anything about all tenants items having to be PAT tested and at who’s cost?

    • The landlord is only responsible for the mains electrical installation and any appliances they provide direct to the tenant. Anything brought in by the tenant is their responsibility. Most fires are caused by such appliances and this point was made to the government during the consultation process.

  • I am dismayed by the possibility that landlords may, after further legislation, be unable to refuse to accommodate ” responsible pets”. My HMO was flea ridden after my very responsible students left the house. It needed 2 lots of treatment by a professional firm before eradication was complete. It meant ditching and replacing a sofa and 3 easy chairs, plus a mattress. Please can RLA try to resist this additional new benefit for tenants. Its about time more consideration was given to landlords. Anita Piper

  • I too am seriously considering selling my buy to lets, i recently had tenants buy a rabbit and my tenancy agreement said no pets. I softly let them keep it on the proviso it was kept outside. They moved out leaving all the skirting in the lounge chewed, rabbit poo in the carpets, they removed a rug from the lounge and put it under the rabbit hutch in the shed. Lawn mower full of rabbit droppings and the garden and lounge full of straw. They thought all acceptable. Im afraid if i have to accept pets my houses will be up for sale. Sick of all the legislation and additional tax costs on top. Really not worth the bother anymore

  • I too have had a very bad experience with a pet dog
    The tenant subletted contrary to his agreement to a work friend who had a black dog. This was also against the agreement.
    When I eventually had the tenant evicted at a high cost I had to replace all the carpets which were dirty and smelly from the tenant and the dog and had to clean up a garden which was heavily fouled by the dog
    There is also the issue of future tenant allergies I.e. towards fur and so any soft furnishings also needed thorough cleaning between tenancies at a cost to the landlord as it will not be covered by the limited deposit, often disputed by the tenant in any case.
    I had to redecorate throughout from damage caused by the tenant(s) and the dog
    Total cost ran into thousands with no recompense
    The existing legal process to remove tenants and make them truly fully accountable is heavily flawed and with further legislation re deposits, pets, removal of section 21 etc etc (when will it end) I too am looking at selling my rental stock and investing elsewhere
    All my properties were purchased new less than 10 years ago and are very energy efficient and I am responsive to any issues that may occur in my properties, usually at a cost to myself regardless of whether the fault may lie with the tenant.
    There are rogue landlords but the good ones are being penalised unfairly.
    So I too am looking to move out of the rental sector if legislation continues on its present course

  • I keep dozens of rescue animals at home and allow pets where suitable in my properties – they are flats in a converted townhouse, so only the ground floor is really suitable, as otherwise a dog would have to be hauled up and down three flights of carpeted stairs two or three times a day, or rabbit/cat litter would need to be hauled up and down and would probably drop out of the bag and be a bother. Yet a benefit tenant on the top floor was specifically told ‘no dogs’ and proceeded to keep a Staffie. He took absolutely NO notice of what I said. You would think he owned the ruddy building. I will be evicting this tenant before very much longer (he spends hardly any time there now, seemingly having shacked up with someone elsewhere – and I don’t see why the taxpayer should cough up two lots of Housing Benefit – and the dog has disappeared, I know not where. There was a note from the RSPCA trying to get hold of him, so he probably did something awful to it, poor thing) and he is the last benefit tenant I will allow in the place. They are an absolute nightmare from start to finish.
    However, having spent a very long time renovating a trashed flat, and installing new carpets (the others got flooded by a benefit tenant…) I have placed the flat in the hands of a letting agent, who explained that they can no longer take a pet deposit, but usually add about £5 per week to the rent, to help cover any damage the pet might do. The tenant they found did not mention pets, but a couple of weeks after she had moved in, I saw (and photographed) a ginger cat in the window. I am still waiting to hear back from the tenant via the agent about why she did not mention this creature, and to make sure she will pay the extra cost, as I don’t see why she should risk my carpets (which I certainly can’t afford to replace).
    I definitely have nothing against animals, I vastly prefer them to human beings, but as it is the human who is responsible for them, I suggest having grave reservations unless you can get a chunk of money out of the tenant to cover the almost inevitable cost.
    My wife and I rented several times with armfuls of rescue rabbits, cats, dogs etc., and usually had to accept substandard housing as a result, yet we inevitably left the property in a better state than we received it. Attitudes is the bottom line. If your tenant has a dubious approach to courtesy, civility and basic honesty, don’t let them keep so much as an earwig.

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