Rules for Tenants and Pets in 2021 - What are the Changes?

Recently, the Ministry of Housing announced changes to the Model Tenancy Agreement to enable tenants with ‘well-behaved pets’ to secure a tenancy more easily. This comes as thousands of tenants have bought new dogs and cats for company during the pandemic, often without consent from their landlord or agent.

Whereas previously this decision could have caused tenants to breach their agreements, recent changes to the rules have meant that this is not the case. Here’s everything you need to know.

Previous Rules for Tenants with Pets

The majority of landlords advertising pet-friendly properties was incredibly low before the pandemic in 2020. This equated to an overall blanket ban on pets for renters from rental agencies. In fact, having a pet has long been deemed as reasonable grounds for eviction.

This meant that many households were not able to own pets at home, even if their properties were perfectly sufficient for handling them. It also meant that if anyone was moving home with existing pets, it would have been hard to find a suitable place, sometimes causing many to give up their pets.

What Are the New Rules for Tenants with Pets?

A new Dogs and Domestic Animals Bill was brought forward by Tory MP Andrew Rosindell on January 28th 2021. This specified that tenants should be allowed to own and live with well-behaved pets. This all comes under the new standard tenancy agreement template, which is now the new recommended government guidance.

Under the new Model Tenancy Agreement which is currently voluntary, consent for pets will be the default position, rather than the opposite. In practical terms, this means that landlords will have to object to a pet request in writing within a 28 day period.

However, if they are able to provide a valid reason for not wanting pets inside, such as the space being too small for an animal, the tenant can still be prohibited from living in the property with a pet. And as things stand now, landlords are still not legally required to accept a pet and still have the final say.

Ultimately, this change is aimed at encouraging landlords to be more open to accepting pets on their property. It is not a rule or enforcement and tenants will still need to negotiate with their landlords or agents to guarantee that they’re definitely allowed to keep pets inside.

Responsibilities of the Pet Owner

Many tenants are new to pet ownership and are not completely aware of the responsibilities. If you are considering taking on a cat or dog for your current or future rental property, we’d recommend looking at the various duties you’ll be expected to uphold first. These include:

  • A legal duty to repair or cover the cost of any damage to the property
  • Proof of vaccinations
  • Microchipping the pet
  • De-worming and de-fleaing
  • Ensuring the pet responds to basic commands
  • Preventing pets from entering other people’s properties
  • Stopping pets from harming neighbours or damaging their property


  • Positives of the New Tenancy Agreement Rules

    When speaking about the new rules for pets, Housing Minister Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP commented: “Through the changes to the tenancy agreement we are making today, we are bringing an end to the unfair blanket ban on pets introduced by some landlords. This strikes the right balance between helping more people find a home that’s right for them and their pet while ensuring landlords’ properties are safeguarded against inappropriate or badly behaved pets.”

    Pros and Cons of the New Rules

    There are many reasons the new standard tenancy agreement for pets will bring a positive change to renters, ranging from things like better mental health and companionship for people who live alone.

    However, the changes might also bring about a few negatives as its effect becomes more widespread. For instance, landlords may choose to increase prices to factor in the potential damage caused to a property by pets. Also, the bill doesn’t really offer much detail about how tenants can prove pets are well behaved.

    Also, factoring in the existence of pets is a new consideration that landlords and agents need to integrate into their management processes.

    This means checking the condition of the property extra carefully and looking for signs that indoor spaces are indeed safe and suitable for animals as well as humans. Things like property inventory app software and condition reports can help here, but it’s important to stay vigilant around these new issues.

    Pros and Cons of the New Rules

    If you are looking for a property management tool to support your activities as a landlord or agent, take a look at our reliable and intuitive services at Reports2Go, including our property inventory app software and easy condition report tool.

    Panos , 26 March 2021

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