Lets with pets

Posted: 26th Mar 2018

The question, as to whether or not to allow tenants to keep pets in a let property, has long been one that may have troubled some landlords.

There are arguments for and against this which have been explored extensively in various publications and landlord insurance websites.

However, what was previously a largely business tactical and insurance debate has now become political.

Labour Party policy

The Labour Party has now confirmed that, if elected, it would seek to introduce legislation guaranteeing tenants the default right to keep pets in their rented property.

The argument for doing so is based largely on the increasing reality of life that many younger adults in some parts of the country, may have to accept that they are unlikely to be able to afford to buy their own property in the foreseeable future. In situations where they are setting up home and perhaps raising a family in rented property, the advocates of the above policy say they should be allowed the right to keep pets as part of their quality of life objectives.

It’s perhaps fair to say that at the moment there appears to be little detail behind this general statement of intent. Even so, it has predictably caused some landlords to question just how this would work in real life.

The problems

While some landlords welcome pets, others do not.

Those that have been reluctant to offer tenants the right to keep pets have cited issues such as:

  • potential damage to the property and its contents;
  • animal welfare concerns, given that some properties (e.g. small flats on upper floors) are, by their very nature, unsuitable for certain types of pet;
  • it may make the property subsequently more difficult to let, due to some tenants preferring previously “pet-free” properties for reasons of odours, hair and in some cases, serious allergies;
  • landlord insurance policies that exclude damage by pets.

Consultation

At the time of writing, the various industry associations have approached the appointed labour party spokesperson, asking for clarification as to what this policy would mean in reality. An answer and further discussions are pending.

Summary

Traditionally new potential tenants have asked the landlord whether or not they would permit pets to be kept in the property concerned. The landlord typically had and has the right to say “yes” or “no”.

The removal of this freedom from landlords would create some issues, at least in theory. It must be presumed that there will be numerous categories of exclusions should any such legislation be introduced in the future.

For example, giving tenants the legal right to keep a dog in a small flat several floors off the ground might appear to be in direct conflict with the rights of other tenants in terms of potential noise and also, as touched on above, possibly animal welfare issues.

At the moment this is clearly just an “on the radar” potential issue for the future which may or may not come to anything. No doubt landlords will be watching developments closely.

Further reading: Should you let your tenant have a pet?