Renting With Pets When Relocating to the UK

For many individuals considering relocating to a new rental property in the UK, a mix of excitement and apprehension is common. However, when renting with pets is part of the equation, the process can become considerably more complex.

While upcoming UK legislation (expected to become law in Q4 2024) will protect pet owners from discrimination, the current reality is that many landlords and letting agents remain hesitant to accept tenants with pets.

This article explores the challenges tenants face when renting with pets in the UK rental market, outlines ways to increase the chances of finding suitable accommodation, and emphasises the importance of understanding tenancy agreements and pet ownership regulations.

Challenges of Renting With Pets

  • Damage Concerns: Landlords are often concerned about potential damage caused by pets, such as scratched floors, chewed furniture, or accidents. This leads to a reluctance to allow pets in rental properties.
  • Limited Property Selection: Currently, and seemingly paradoxically for a nation of self-proclaimed pet lovers, many landlords and letting agents routinely refuse applications from pet owners, severely limiting available housing options for those renting with pets.
  • Additional Requirements and Costs: Even when accepted, pet owners often face additional pet clauses, end-of-tenancy cleaning fees, including fumigation and deodorisation, and higher rents. Landlords cannot request a separate ‘pet deposit’ but can increase rental prices where pets are permitted in rentals. This practice of increasing rent has become more common following the capping of deposits in 2019.

Tenant Fees Act 2019: Protecting Your Rights

It is important to note that the Tenant Fees Act 2019 restricts security deposits to a maximum of 5 or 6 weeks’ rent, depending on the annual rent, and landlords cannot charge additional fees beyond those permitted by the Act, even for tenants renting with pets.

The deposit is capped at a maximum of 5 weeks’ rent if the annual rent is under £50,000 per annum, and 6 weeks’ rent if the annual rent is £50,000 or more.

Strategies for Finding Pet-Friendly Accommodation

  • Transparency and Proactiveness: Communicate pet ownership upfront and be prepared to provide documentation like previous landlord references and your pet CV.
  • Crafting a Pet CV: Showcase your pet’s positive attributes and responsible ownership through a detailed pet CV. Highlight your pets’ training, behaviour at home, recent vaccinations, flea, and worming treatments.
  • Open Communication and Negotiation: Agreeing to specific pet clauses outlining responsibilities and offering to introduce your pet to the landlord to address concerns directly is essential when renting a property. Examples of these clauses include responsibility for pet damage, regular cleaning, behavioural expectations, and covering pet-related costs.

The Rights of Tenants with Assistance Dogs

The Equality Act of 2010 protects disabled people from discrimination and requires landlords to make reasonable adjustments when a disabled person is placed at a significant disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person. This includes allowing assistance pets, even where landlords have ‘no pets’ policies. Article 14 of the Human Rights Act also prohibits discrimination, ensuring that people with assistance pets are treated equally and fairly on all levels.

Additional Considerations When Renting With Pets

  • Flexibility: Because your options may be limited, you may need to be willing to consider different locations, property types, and increases to your budget.
  • Prioritise Your Pet’s Well-Being: Choose a suitable property with adequate space and research local pet amenities like parks and veterinary clinics.
  • Research Pet Ownership Regulations: When relocating from overseas, it is important to understand regulations like pet passports, microchipping, vaccinations, and potential quarantine procedures.

Don’t Breach the Tenancy Agreement

While it may be tempting to sneak a pet into your property, don’t! If your landlord or letting agent has clearly prohibited pet ownership in the tenancy agreement, you would be in breach of contract. If you ignore the terms of your lease, this could result in your eviction from the property.

Renters (Reform) Bill for Tenants Renting With Pets

The Renters (Reform) Bill is currently being debated in Parliament, with the expectation of it becoming law by the end of 2024.

This upcoming legislation will oblige landlords to consider requests from tenants to keep pets and will prohibit them from unreasonably refusing such requests. This change will give tenants more flexibility in finding rental property in the UK that accommodates pets.

Additionally, landlords will be able to request pet insurance to cover any potential damage that pets may cause to their property.

It’s also important to note that the government has clarified that landlords may have reasonable grounds to refuse tenants renting with pets under the Renters Reform Bill. This could include situations where a pet is deemed ‘clearly too large for a small property’ or if another tenant in a shared household has a pet allergy.

Final Thoughts

Relocating with pets in the UK requires preparation, open communication, and a clear understanding of your rights and responsibilities. By following this advice and remaining adaptable and proactive, pet owners can navigate the rental market with greater confidence and find a new home that accommodates their entire family. Moreover, by advocating for responsible pet ownership and having open communication with landlords, pet owners can contribute to a more inclusive housing future where all families, regardless of furry companions, have access to suitable accommodation.

Speak to one of our experts or send a message today and find out how we can add value to your relocation programme.

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