Renting In St Albans: What the Changes to the Standard Tenancy Agreement Could Mean For Renters with Pets

In January 2021, a new standard tenancy agreement was introduced by housing minister Christopher Pincher, removing the blanket ban on pets in rented accommodation.  

If the new Model Tenancy Agreement (MTA) is used by a landlord, consent for pets will be the default position, and any objections will have to be raised by the landlord in writing within 28 days of a written pet request by a tenant.

While the landlord will have to provide a good reason for their objection, no laws have changed with regards to tenants being able to keep pets in their homes. And because the MTA is only voluntary, if the landlord chooses to use their own standard contract the new pet clause could be omitted.

More than half of adults in the UK own a pet and thousands more have taken up pet ownership during the pandemic. However, only 7% of private landlords advertise pet friendly properties at present, which makes it harder for pet owners to find suitable accommodation. In more extreme cases, this can mean they have to give up their pets altogether.

More flexibility needed for deposits

Since the changing of the law in June 2019, landlords and letting agents can only request a tenancy deposit of up to 5 weeks rent for the full tenancy. However, as long as it advertised properly, rent can be increased to replace a ‘pet premium’ on the tenancy deposit.

The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) say that due to the increased risk of property damage caused by pets they want the government to create more flexibility on deposit size. This could provide more reassurance to landlords whilst allowing tenants to rent with pets.

They are also calling for changes that will ensure tenants have pet insurance or the option to pay the landlord for it to be allowed as part of their tenancy. Due to changes made to the Tenant Fees Act, payments such as this are not permitted. Again, this would help to reduce the level of risk landlords associate with renting with pets.

NRLA has recommend that any rejections to pets in rental accommodation should only be made where is good reason. For example, if the tenant lives in a small property such as a flat, owning a pet may not be a practical option, especially if they have no garden or outdoor space.

Upcoming challenges

Before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, MP Andrew Rosindell and his supporters attempted to get the Dogs and Domestic Animals (Accommodation and Protection) Bill passed, although it was unsuccessful.

Working with pet advocacy organisations such as AdvoCats, Rosindell is currently preparing a second private members bill. The original bill compelled landlords to accept tenants with pets, while the new version is suggesting that alongside ‘permitted payments’ such as rent, deposits and holding deposits, pet rental insurance premiums should also be allowed. This would enable letting agents and landlords to charge for pet insurance.

The aim is to include this proposal in the Renter’s Reform Bill which is due to be introduced into parliament in late 2021.

Moving to St Albans

If you’re looking to rent a property in St Albans and have a pet, we can help you find your ideal pet-friendly home. We work with many landlords across St Albans who have a range of spacious properties with outdoor space that are suitable for pets. Get in touch with our friendly lettings team today to find out more about our pet-friendly rental properties.