Is It Illegal for Landlords to Refuse Pets?

Estimated reading time 8 minutes

There is no law around pets and rental properties and the decision as to whether landlords refuse pets is theirs and theirs alone. When you consider 85.3% of landlords have incurred damage to their property by pets and of that number 57% were unable to recover the damage it is probably no surprise to learn that only 7% of landlords advertise pet friendly properties.

However private landlords have discretion to use a Government drafted model tenancy agreement.  This template has been updated to enable tenants to keep pets as the default. Under this model tenancy agreement landlords can no longer issue blanket bans on pets. Instead, landlords will need to actively object, in writing, within 28 days of a written pet request from a tenant and provide a good reason.

The Government is proposing a new Renters Reform Bill which if passed will prevent landlords from placing a blanket ban on tenants being allowed pets, the bill states that if a tenant wants to have a pet in a rented accommodation, they would have a legal right to do so. However, they would still need to ask the landlord’s permission. Note that while the Renters Reform Bill is being discussed and the government says they will encourage a common-sense approach it is not enshrined into the law and therefore the law does not make it illegal for landlords to refuse pets.

Every tenancy agreement is different and their can be various rules for various properties and although tenants can request to have pets in the property there is no legal obligation for landlords to allow tenants to keep pets, so landlords can say no to pets.

If your tenancy agreement says no pets are allowed do not think about sneaking in a pet. Having an unauthorised pet will mean you have breached your agreement and the landlord could decide to have you evicted. If they issue a Section 8 you may just have 14 days to vacate the property.

Reasons Landlords can refuse pets

  • The accommodation is too small and your landlord believes our pet is too large for their property ie: housing an animal there would be impractical.
  • The pet may pose risk on religious grounds as they or another tenant may not be able to come into contact with domestic animals. 
  • The pet might cause a nuisance to neighbours, the primary culprit for issues surrounding nuisance to neighbours in the UK is noise related and dogs and their excessive barking ranks highly on the complaints list.
  • Pet allergies are a concern for landlord’s as allowing pet could cause problems when it comes to finding the next tenants as over 30% of the uk population suffers from allergies. Animals can come with fleas and mites and once they take hold in the your home it can be very hard to remove them and tenants do not want a flea infestation anymore than a landlord does. 
  • Fouling and odours are a reason landlords refuse pets, odours left behind from animal faeces can cling to soft furnishings and the smell can stick around for a while. Urine-soaked wooden floorings or carpet underlay is again going to smell and make the property unattractive to prospective tenants.
  • Please note you are not automatically allowed to keep an assistance dog in a flat despite it being critical to health, you must check the terms on the lease state you can have an assistance pet. You can ask your landlord to make a  “reasonable adjustment” but if there is a no pets clause this may not have to be adjusted.

Landlords and pets

Landlords are often nervous about having pets because they’re worried that they might damage the property and therefore under the new tenancy agreement ruling they can increase the size of the security deposit and tenants will have to pay to repair any damage caused by the pet.

Under the Tenant Fees Act, landlords are only able to charge a maximum tenancy deposit of five weeks’ rent for properties with an annual rent of less than £50,000 and six weeks’ rent if the annual rent exceeds £50,000. Prior to this act landlords could charge more.

If a landlord does allow pets, make sure you have it in writing and also check for any covenant that allows them to withdraw their agreement if your pet causes problems to the neighbours and or damages the property. Similarly, if you are the landlord and want to allow pets in your rental property make sure the tenancy agreement clearly sates conditions that will protect the property, specify the pets you will allow and refuse.

Can a flat owner be prevented from keeping a pet?

If you are the freeholder of the flat you cannot be prevented from having a pet, however when you buy a flat you are typically a leaseholder. If you are a leaseholder you will have to obtain the freeholders permission to keep a pet in the property in the same way you would if you were renting.

Check the property leasehold to find out if there is a no pets clause. The clause should be written clearly and explicitly and forbid pets from being kept in the flat and it should state the actions that will be taken against you if you do not abide by the rule.

If the lease states prior consent is needed before you can keep a pet it should make clear that each pet will be considered separately and that the freeholder has the right to refuse any pet. The clause should also highlight if permission is granted for the pet if there are rules they must be followed or the consent will be revoked.

How to ask a landlord for a pet

A good way to increase your chances of getting a landlord to agree to your pet is by providing your landlord with the reassurance he needs.  A good first step is to ask your previous landlord to provide a reference. Next prove your pet is up to date with all its vaccinations, de-worming, de-fleaing this should help to put your landlords mind to rest. As your landlord is only able to request a deposit of five weeks’ rent for properties with an annual rent of less than £50,000 and six weeks’ rent if the annual rent exceeds £50,000 you could offer to pay a slightly increased rent to cover any costs of a pet insurance policy if your landlord wished to take one out. You could also offer to have the property deep-cleaned at the end of your tenancy thereby removing that cost that the landlord would have incurred. Finally, you could invite your potential landlord to meet your pet in your current accommodation so they can see first-hand how your pet behaves.

If you are successful in securing your landlords approval for a pet make sure you ask for the tenancy agreement to be amended so that is clear to all parties.

Final word from Gaffsy

There is legislation in the pipeline under the Renters Reformer bill and Dogs and Domestic Animals Accommodation Protection Bill which will make it easier for responsible tenants with well-behaved pets to rent properties. But until this comes into effect landlords do not have to accept a tenant’s request to rent with a pet.  However, if you are a pet owner looking to rent then look for landlords and letting agents that use the Governments model tenancy agreement as this will increase your chances of being able to rent with a pet.

If you are a landlord that does not allow pets it is worth keeping in mind only 7% of landlords advertise their properties as “pet friendly” and that if you did, you would open up your property to a much larger pool of tenants.  It is also worth noting that as pet friendly properties or rooms can be hard to find a tenant will often stay longer and be willing to pay a little higher rent for the accommodation.

If you are a landlord and concerned that when the Renters Reformer bill and Dogs and Domestic animals’ accommodation protection bill comes into effect your tenants will have a right to request a pet in your property and which you must not unreasonably not agree to, then you may want to sell your property.  If that is case and you want to sell your flat now then contact Gaffsy, they will make you a free cash offer for your flat or house today.  Just enter your postcode and Gaffsy will assess the location of your property what else is on the market and a get a valuation to you quickly so that you can sell your house fast with no fees.

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