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RLA seek clarity over Labour plans to allow tenants to keep pets in properties

Victoria Barker
Written by Victoria Barker

A proposal by the Labour party to give tenants the default right to keep pets in rental properties has been met with caution by the RLA.

Under the proposals, tenants would have a ‘default’ right to keep a pet in a rental property, unless there is evidence that a pet would be a nuisance.

The Labour Party plan to consult on the proposals that tenants should keep pets as a default, and the RLA has written a letter to Shadow DEFRA Secretary, Sue Hayman MP about some concerns that it believes need to be addressed.

Clarification needed

RLA Policy Director David Smith said: “The proposal raises a number of questions which we will work constructively with the Labour Party to address.

“Will landlords be able to charge higher deposits to reflect the increased risks of damage to a property where pets are allowed? Will insurance premiums increase for landlords to reflect the greater risk of allowing pets to be kept as a default position? What happens in shared homes and blocks of flats where one or more of the tenants do not want, or are allergic to, a pet?

“Labour will need to respond positively to all these points if landlords are to have confidence in this suggested policy.”

Unintended consequences

Adding to this, in an interview this morning with BBC Three Counties Radio, RLA Vice Chair Chris Town said:

“As things stand, many landlords do allow pets in their properties. If the default situation (as Labour are proposing) is that you cannot control what’s coming into your property, there could be unintended consequences associated with that. Landlords are responsible for the welfare of everyone in the property, not just those with pets.

“Particularity in a HMO, there are lots of other people’s right to consider, not just the rights of the tenant with the pet. For example, other people in the HMO may be allergic to pets or they could work night shifts. Allowing pets also means that landlords have to inspect properties more often”.

Landlords should already make checks

“If someone approached me as a landlord for a property, then I would always contact previous landlord and find out from them what the tenants behaviour was like at the property, so if they look after a pet, was there any issues with that pet, barking noise etc. If there wasn’t, it would be unreasonable to withhold permission.

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.

16 Comments

  • RE: Pets allowed by default.
    My properties are all flats where I do not allow pets for the following reasons:
    1. The pet is likely to spend long hours alone in a small space.
    2. Potential noise nuisance.
    3. Problems arising from dealing with the pet’s excrement in the immediate environment or shared household bins.

  • Having worked in the community before becoming a landlord, I would be very concerned about Labour’s proposal.
    I have seen homes where pets were allowed to urinate and defaecate in them.
    As a Landlord I allowed a tenant to have two small snakes, only to discover her had brought a large python into the property.
    Once there the tenant did not remove it, although neighbours expressed their concerns

  • I gave permit ion for a small dog with in a mouth the dog was changed for a large dog
    Then two.
    The dogs never went out the hose for a walk
    The tenant moved out I had to change the carpet and clean up the garden
    Give permit ion in the future I don’t think so

  • I provide furnished property. I did allow a 12 wk. fostering of 2 cats – I didn’t take an extra deposit – this subsequently became up to half a dozen cats for 4 years! A learning curve for me – note to self “Must be firmer”! If I was forced BY LAW law to allow pets, I would sell the property!!
    Not only did they ruin the carpet, curtains and sofa – scratching, the house STUNK!, the tenants wouldn’t open windows – in case the ‘house’ cats got out, hence condensation; (separately, they wouldn’t heat the house, hence mould0. I’ve now lost months of rent since – because I can’t face starting on it! Seriously considering changing my vote this year – Labour are tarring ALL landlords with the same brush as a few rogue landlords – they’re conveniently disregarding the stress/hassle/extortionate costs which irresponsible TENANTS cause landlords! Very imbalanced view – irrational proposal!

  • Having worked in Leasehold management and social housing sector, pets can be a nightmare.

    In a leasehold property a fire door was jammed open with a large pebble, just leaving the door open wide enough for the cat to get out. When the door was pushed open the force of the self closing mechanism over time caused the door frame to distort and split. This resulted in a £700 bill, the lessees were not happy. When the cat was trapped in the communal areas the defecation and urine had to be cleaned up at extra cost.

    The damage to flats and houses by pets can run into a great deal of money, flea infestation, defecation and urine ruin carpets. Could a landlord insist that the tenant covers the cost of extra insurance or we just put the rent up?

  • I don’t have a problem with this. I never refuse permission for a tenant to have a pet, and in my experience people do what they like anyway- I have had 2 properties where when the tenants have moved out it turns out they have had a dog without asking which has caused some damage (along with a lot of other damage caused by the tenant), and yet all my other properties with tenants who have asked permission have never caused an issue.
    There are a lot of abandoned pets in this country because owners have had to move into rented accommodation which will not allow pets and I feel some landlords arbitrarily ban them when in most cases there is no need (and tenants who are likely to be a problem down the line will ignore the ban anyway if they wish to have a pet, and it will be a small part of the eventual state of the property when they leave).

    • Jane L…I don’t believe you’re a landlord. If you are, you’re only renting middle-class properties to middles-class tenants.

  • My house my rules – no pets… if tenants do not like it find another home. no political party should be able to dictate such unreasonable demands on Landlords and the RLA should be saying no to this absurdity not negotiating with them….

  • Many head leases in blocks of flats prohibit animals, so the (lessee) landlord does not have a choice.
    How would the proposed law deal with this situation?

  • I want to retain the discretion to say no, rather than having to persuade the courts that a particular animal would be a problem. I do sometimes allow pets, it depends on the pet and the tenants, but one tenant kept mice, which I didn’t allow, because they stink terribly, so she tried to hide them by putting the cage outside.Unfortunately it snowed, and they all died.I have also had tenants claiming that a pet belonged to a relative or a friend who was undergoing cancer treatment. If someone has an allergy, it can be provoked by a pet which previously spent time in a particular room.

  • It needn’t even be a rented property – from a house not far away from us, there can be almost continuous barking from an unhappy, lonely dog, left in for the day. These people would say they love their pet! Same applies to rented property – the tenant isn’t home to hear it! I’ve had a dog left alone in a house – carpet soaked right through to the wooden floor. Cats at least learn to use a tray.

  • I agree with many comments above. My houses, my rules. I have experienced problems with pets and nuisance to neighbours and pet hair, damage, mess and smells created in the house making it difficult and expensive to clean properly and re-rent. There will be loads of hassle, time and money to rectify problems caused and I doubt if the Law or dispute resolution will be on the landlords side. Also, what is the point of making pets the default position? If you only can find out later that the pets have caused a nuisance and what rights do we have to get rid of pets and tenants swiftly – who we will be unable to give references too. I suspect some landlords may give references just to get rid of tenants.

  • This is an outrageous and ill considered proposal. We had a tenant house 2 large dogs in a small one bedroom flat without our permission. They barked all day upsetting all the neighbours who complained to the management company. Under the current legislation I was able to evict the tenant. If we had not, we would have had to forfeit the lease! How can default permission for pets be sensible when they cause such disturbance? At least it should not apply to flats. The effort required to deny a tenant the housing of pets is too cumbersome for landlords. We would sell the flat rather than have all this hassle. There is an increasing amount of bureaucracy (cf GDPR!) which will cause many landlords to find other ways of investing money. and there will be less property available for rent.

  • my contract states that pets are allowed subject to an agreed deposit, and the tenant having a disinfection clean throughout by a professional company when they leave, and I retain part of the deposit for a stated time in case another clean is required Only one of my tenants had a pet…a large dog, but another sneaked a dog in. The tenant with the large dog became aggressive and threatening sending abusive texts to me when I insisted the contract is kept to. The tenant who sneaked the dog in also became aggressive and intermediating when they left and either allowed or encouraged the dog to urinate in every room and defecate in the lounge, the costs to rectify the problems ran into the thousands, both tenants were professional people with high salaries. Would I now allow pets? Gold fish possibly! If Labour get into power and enforce the proposal all of my properties will be sold and my investments would go elsewhere

  • Surely it should be up to the individual landlord as to whether or not they allow pets in their property. This is just one more nail in the coffin (albeit proposed at the moment), to the PRS. Are the Government intending to wipe out the PRS altogether? They are doing nothing to incentivise landlords!

  • I let bedsits and small flats and do occasionally allow pets by prior agreement, but I did have a tenant who had a small dog. They left, but the fleas didn’t! No more dogs for me,
    I don’t see how the Labour proposals can work, If I had to allow large dogs in small flats or bedsits the restrictions would be unsuitable for the dog! I ‘d be more likely to move out of renting .

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