What are your legal rights as a tenant when renting with a pet?
If you’re a renter and would like to welcome a pet into your home, you may be worried about your landlord not allowing it. But is it legal for a landlord to say no? Do you have any legal rights if your landlord refuses your request to have a pet?
As a renter it’s not always easy to know what your legal rights are, so let’s take a look at what the law in England, Scotland and Wales says about pets in rental properties.
England, Scotland and Wales all have slightly different laws, so you can find Scotland and Wales specific advice further down the page here.
What is the law on having pets in a rented flat or house?
The law says that landlords can have ‘no pet’ policies, but the way this works in practice is nuanced and the law itself could be changing. Battersea is working with others in the charity sector on new laws proposed by the Government to change the way private and public sector renting works.
In 2021, the Government updated its Model Tenancy Agreement (MTA) to remove blanket bans on pets from the standard contract. According to the updated document, any restrictions on pet ownership have to be ‘reasonable’. However, the MTA is a template and there is no legal requirement for landlords to use it with their tenants. It still sends a strong signal for a more flexible approach to pets in rental properties and could be a useful way to show your landlord what the change looks like in practice from a legal standpoint.
What happens if I get a pet without my landlord’s permission?
We do not recommend getting a pet in a rental property without landlord permission. This would be a breach of your rental agreement and could result in serious consequences such as expensive fees and even eviction. Instead, we recommend going to your landlord armed with an understanding of the law, and with evidence of research into responsible pet ownership and ways you will minimise any impact on their property. If your landlord isn’t willing to allow pets there are still lots of ways to have animals in your life, such as volunteering for an animal charity, spending time with friends and family’s pets, or signing up to a platform that allows you to look after other people’s pets. If you’re delaying the decision to get a pet this is also a great opportunity to learn more about the kind of animal you would eventually like to get, and to research what you might need to do before becoming a responsible pet owner.
How do I get permission from my landlord for a pet?
There are lots of reasons landlords should be willing to accept pets: renters with pets tend to stay longer in properties and get more involved with their local communities. We know that some landlords worry about additional wear and tear to their property due to pets, among other concerns, so we recommend open and honest conversations to try to find a solution, such as offering to get insurance for any damage your pet might do. Take a look at our advice on asking your landlord for permission to get a pet for more things to consider.
What if my landlord asks for a higher deposit in order to allow a pet?
A landlord might ask you to pay a higher deposit in order to consider allowing you to have a pet. However, it’s important to know that there is legally a cap on the amount of deposit a landlord can charge you, which is no more than the equivalent of six weeks’ rent. This includes any existing deposit amount you may have already given them when you first signed the tenancy agreement, and they cannot legally ask for more than this. Make sure that any deposit you’re charged is within this legal limit and that your money is held within a Tenancy Deposit Scheme for security. This is also a legal requirement.
What are my rights as a leaseholder or when living in a leasehold property?
A leasehold is when someone owns the right to a property for a set length of time. For example, someone might own the right to a flat for a hundred-year lease, but the whole block of flats would be owned by someone else (the freeholder). A lease agreement sets terms for a leaseholder and this can include bans on pets.
If you are a leaseholder and you want to get a pet, make sure you check your lease agreement as there may be restrictions or permissions you need to get. If you’re a renter, your landlord might be a leaseholder, so they will need to check their leasehold agreement before they can let you have a pet, even if they are happy for you to have one.
What are my rights as a renter in Scotland?
In Scotland, you generally need to get written permission to keep a pet, and it is at the landlord’s discretion. The Scottish Government is currently reviewing the tenancy system in Scotland, which may change the way in which pets are viewed in rented accommodation. Scottish tenants have a larger deposit cap, which can be up to two months’ rent. This can be used in discussions with landlords regarding the option of keeping a pet.
What are my rights as a renter in in Wales?
In Wales, renting is governed by the Welsh Government ‘Renting Homes’ system. This requires landlords and tenants (contract-holders) to use specific agreements where their rights and responsibilities are clearly set out. Under this system pets are classed as an additional term, requiring an agreement between the landlord and contract-holder. Wales does not have a cap on deposits, however the standard deposit is equivalent to one months’ rent. Welsh tenants may be able to use the possibility of a slight increase on the standard deposit to account for pets, within reason.
The future of pets and renting
The Government has announced plans to make it easier to rent with pets. Under the proposals, renters in England will be allowed to request pets and landlords will not be able to unreasonably deny this request. Landlords will also have the power to request that tenants take out insurance against any damage their pets might cause. In a welcome move, the Government acknowledges the role pets can play in improving their owners’ mental and physical wellbeing and that keeping a pet helps renters to feel like their house is a home.
Battersea finds it encouraging that the Government has stated its intention to work with stakeholders to find a ‘common-sense’ approach. Our Pet Friendly Properties campaign engages with tenants and landlords to find workable solutions to obstacles pet owners can encounter when renting while upholding the rights of landlords and the welfare of pets. We are looking forward to working with the Government as this policy develops and will keep supporters of our Pet Friendly Properties campaign updated as we learn more.