Pet Friendly Properties
Pet Friendly Properties
Pets in social housing
Battersea believes that pet ownership provides great benefits for owners, animals and society. However, all too many people are denied the rewards of this companionship, because of the terms of their rental agreement. This is why Battersea is working with housing providers to help promote pet ownership and to make London a more pet friendly city.
The latest Pet Food Manufacturing Association (PFMA) report1 shows that 10% of those giving up their dogs had done so because landlords didn’t allow pets.
For Battersea, that means more than 200 dogs a year coming through our gates because of landlord restrictions on pets.
Benefits of pet ownership
- Pet owners are 60% more likely than non–pet owners to get to know people in their neighbourhoods.
- Pet owners make 15% fewer visits to a doctor and pet ownership saves the NHS £2.45 billion annually.
- Pet owners stay longer in their tenancies and develop stronger community ties than non-pet owners.
- Pet ownership is good for the local economy as owners spend money on food, toys and services such as vets, grooming and dog walking in their local area.
- Dog ownership has significant health benefits, as walking and exercise lead to reduced obesity and lower cholesterol, protecting against heart disease and diabetes.
- Pet ownership promotes good mental health. It helps to lift depression, reduce loneliness and support independent living.
Failure to encourage pet ownership means:
- Higher rents and deposits, imposed by landlords to cover the risk of damage caused by pets.
- Taking longer to find a suitable pet friendly home and staying longer in less desirable accommodation as demand for pet friendly accommodation outstrips supply2.
- Worry that any complaint about their pet could mean they lose their home.
- Being disenfranchised from all the health and social benefits of keeping a pet, benefits which ultimately impact on communities and the national economy.
One study3 found that nearly 30% of pet-owning tenants did not declare their pets for fear they would be refused, risking eviction if discovered.
Battersea carried out dedicated research on pet policies in the London social rented sector. Our analysis of the policies of all London Local Authorities and the 30 largest Housing Associations in London found some positive findings:
- None impose a blanket ban on all their tenants from keeping a dog or cat
- 24% of Local Authorities allow all their tenants to keep a dog
- 48% allow all tenants to keep a cat
- Few tenants are the subject of formal complaints or legal action because of their pet.
However, there is still plenty to improve in London:
- Inconsistent policies on keeping dogs in flats (with no private garden).
Local Authorities are split on this. 24% allow dogs in these flats, 21% ban them. The majority of Housing Associations (64%) ban them. Our research shows that flexible policies that give tenants in flats the opportunity to have a dog can work.
- Varying standards on responsible dog ownership.
The conditions imposed on dog owners vary considerably. Most landlords require that the dog is not a nuisance. Few include requirements relating to microchipping, breeding, selling and animal welfare. Our survey shows that standalone policy documents, supporting the Tenancy Agreement, allow more comprehensive policies to be implemented, oriented towards promoting responsible ownership.
- Little support for dog owners.
Some housing providers give contact details of animal welfare organisations to their tenants with dogs and provide services such as free microchipping and access to responsible dog training courses. Most take an enforcement approach to dog ownership to ensure compliance with the conditions in the tenancy agreement.
Please find the full report and summary report by clicking the buttons below:
3.4 million UK households rent from social landlords, mainly Local Authorities and Housing Associations who provide affordable housing.
By 2025, 60% of all households in London will rent their homes.
- Local Authorities and Housing Associations should implement more flexible policies on keeping dogs and cats, with a presumption in favour of allowing a pet. Some may see this as risky and costly, so should enlist the help of a recognised animal welfare organisation like Battersea. Such a partnership would provide the expertise and confidence to implement such policies, possibly on a trial basis initially, for subsequent roll out and sharing with other housing providers if successful. Battersea’s Pet Ready Training Programme could form a critical part of this partnership, providing knowledge and training for dog owners and peace of mind for housing providers.
- Tenancy agreements should be supported by a standalone document, setting out the conditions and standards to which dog owners are expected to adhere. These should follow the blue print provided in the draft model pet policy to ensure consistency.
- Housing providers should identify and share best practice, with the aim of moving towards a more consistent approach to keeping dogs and cats in social housing across London. The variety of policies currently in place lends itself to testing different approaches, although the issue of poor data availability will need to be addressed.
- The legal standing of ‘no pet’ clauses in tenancy agreements should be clarified by the Competition and Markets Authority. If it remains unclear that this is an unfair contract term, such clauses should be banned as they have already been in other jurisdictions including France, Canada (Ontario) and Australia (Victoria).
How Battersea can help
To support our partner Local Authorities and Housing Associations, we can offer a model pet policy and Pet Friendly Training Programme.
The model pet policy provides Local Authorities and Housing Associations with a standalone document that can be adapted and used to support existing tenancy agreements. Our model policy sets out the conditions and standards which social housing providers can expect of pet owning residents, as well as providing a document that pet owners can refer to when looking for advice and support.
The Pet Friendly Training Programme offers tenants the opportunity to gain vital pet ownership skills to help them to provide the best home environment for their pets.
Our Community Engagement team have already achieved great success with our courses – raising awareness of what it means to be a responsible owner and equipping them with the knowledge and skills to support their pets’ health, welfare, training and wellbeing.
These short courses are designed for tenants applying to have a pet, as well as support existing tenants who have pets.
To find out more information about our Pet Ready Training Programme please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out our information pack below: