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What Does The Dogs and Domestic Animals Bill Mean for Renters?

22 April 2021 Simon Banks Read time: 2 min
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Simon Banks

We are a nation of pet owners. In fact, almost half of us have a little furry friend at home, be it a lovable doggy or purring feline. And yet, it’s still so hard to rent a home with a pet. Things are changing, however. And new laws for renters with pets mean it’s about to become easier to move into a place with Duke and Daisy. 

But what are these new pet renting rules, and how do they affect you as a renter? We’re answering all the burning questions in this guide with the low down on The Dogs and Domestic Animals (Accommodation and Protection) Bill. 

What were the old rules for renting with pets? 

Historically, finding somewhere to live with your four-legged friend was a nightmare. In England, landlords can flat-out reject renters who have pets, stating they don’t want to let their property to pet owners. 

And since the introduction of the Tenant Fee Ban, things have only got worse. Previously, landlords would charge renters with pets a higher security deposit (usually eight weeks), just in case the animal caused damage to the home.

However, since the introduction of the Tenant Fee Ban, landlords can only charge a maximum of five weeks’ rent. It meant they can't safeguard themselves against potential damage – not that your adorable Yorkshire Terrier would cause any problems, of course. 

The aftermath of the Tenant Fee Ban has seen some landlords charge higher rents to people with pets, which is hardly fair. And even so, over 90 per cent of landlords have a blanket ban on pets of any kind in the property. 

What are the new pet rules for renters? 

Covid has drawn increased attention to the renting sector and only highlighted the need for everyone to live in happy and comfortable surroundings. For many, that means living with a pet. They can help reduce stress and anxiety, providing important companionship in the process. 

The government seemingly agrees, and they’ve announced stricter rules on landlords restricting pets. While it hasn’t cleared parliament just yet, The Dogs and Domestic Animals (Accommodation and Protection) Bill was brought forward and is expected to go through. 

The rules in the plan specify that tenants who own well-behaved pets can move into a home with them. There are some conditions, however. Renters need to meet the following criteria and pass the “responsible ownership test” first. 

Pets must

  • Have proof of vaccinations
  • Be microchipped
  • Be de-wormed and de-flead
  • Owners also need to ensure pets respond to basic commands

The new legislation falls under the Model Tenancy Agreement, a voluntary but recommended government guideline for all landlords to follow. 

Are there any alternatives? 

If you can’t wait for the new rules to come into effect, there are other options available. The majority of Build-to-Rent communities let you bring your furry friend with you, and some of them even have social spaces that include pet spas. 

Allowing renting with pets has been one of the key drivers for Build-to-Rent, with operators taking the initiative and making their units more accommodating for animals. The result is an even greater sense of community with renters allowed to have a home with their pets. 

A triumph for renters

While The Dogs and Domestic Animals (Accommodation and Protection) Bill isn’t perfect – for example, proving you’re a responsible pet owner is subjective and could open itself up for interpretation – the bill is definitely a step in the right direction. It gives renters with pets more options when looking for a home, and that can only be a good thing. The future of the rental market suddenly looks much brighter when it comes to lets with pets. 

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