The Labour Party plans to strengthen the rights of tenants to keep pets in their rental property as part of a package of proposed animal welfare measures.
Some tenancy agreements insist that tenants cannot keep pets in their properties.
Tenants can seek permission to keep pets, but Labour wants a default right for them to do so, unless there is evidence that their pet will be a nuisance.
The Party announced the plan as a form of recognition of the growing number of people having to rent well into their 30s.
Under the 2015 Consumer Rights Act, a landlord can only refuse permission if it is reasonable to do so, for instance, on grounds of the animal’s size, the damage it could cause to the property and its impact on future rental prospects.
Under Labour’s plans, which it wants to discuss with landlord and tenant bodies, there would need to be evidence that the animal was a nuisance for permission to be refused.
The National Landlords Association (NLA) says that its members should have the right to refuse tenants with pets, as long as they justify their actions, including in cases where the property is simply not geared up for animals.
But the organisation’s Chief Exectuive, Richard Lambert, adds: “Tenants who keep pets do tend to stay for longer periods of time, and there are a few simple steps that landlords can take in order to mitigate the perceived increased risks.”
This includes insisting on larger deposits.
Housing charity Shelter believes that, while it is often difficult for landlords to enforce conditions relating to pets, tenants are at a greater risk of eviction if they are in breach of their tenancy agreements.
David Smith, the Policy Director of the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), responds to the plans: “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?”
He adds: “Labour will need to respond positively to all these points if landlords are to have confidence in this suggested policy.”
What are your thoughts on the proposal?