According to RSPCA figures, approximately 44% of the UK’s population has one or more pets. It is considered something of a grey area whether tenants are permitted to keep pets in their property, even where pet clauses are included in the tenancy agreement. This is because some of the clauses are considered unfair, as set out by the Consumer Rights Act (2015).
However, even if a landlord includes a blanket ban on pets, which is not enforceable, do you really want to fall out with your landlord when they have the power to evict you when your fixed tenancy agreement ends?
Blanket Bans Are Not Enforceable
The Consumer Rights Act (2015) states that a no pet clause should allow for the tenant to ask for permission to keep a pet. The landlord is not allowed to unreasonably refuse the request. Obviously, this is open to interpretation. It is considered best practice to outline the reasons for refusal, but it isn’t necessarily a requirement according to the CRA.
In some cases, the landlord removes the section that allows tenants to request permission. The subsequent clause is a blanket ban on pets, and this is not considered enforceable. If you, as a tenant, were to take this to court, then it is likely that you would win the right to keep a pet.
What Is Considered Reasonable?
The most common reasons that a landlord would refuse to allow a pet in one of their properties are:
- The pet could cause damage to the property
- It could cause problems if future tenants are allergic to that animal
- They could carry fleas and other pests
- They cause nuisance noise for neighbours
Other possible reasons include the possibility that the leasehold that was agreed when the property was purchased, or any insurance policies that are active on the property, prohibit the keeping of animals in the property.
Your landlord could argue about the type of pet you want. For example, if you live in a relatively small flat, and want a Great Dane, they might argue that the dog is too large for the size of the property. This would be considered a reasonable argument against the ownership of that dog. Similarly, if you ask to keep six dogs in a property with no garden, your landlord could argue that that many dogs need outdoor space.
If you are willing to pay an extra deposit to cover the cost of potential damage and required cleaning, this will go a long way to helping persuade your landlord. If you can get a reference from a current landlord, which states that the pet is well behaved and has not caused damage this could also help.
Your landlord may not be able to evict you during your tenancy agreement, even if you did not seek permission to keep a pet. The judge is likely to acknowledge that there was a breach of agreement, but they may not deem it to be a big enough breach to justify eviction. There are exceptions. If the landlord can show that your dog has caused damage to the property, the judge may serve a Possession Order but suspend it under the condition that you get rid of the dog.
Your landlord always have the option to serve a section 21 notice to evict you once your tenancy ends. They do not need a reason to do this, because the tenancy agreement has come to an end at that point.
If your tenancy has already ended, and you have remained in the property on a rolling tenancy, your landlord can serve a section 21 notice and demand that you leave within 2 months.
If you have not yet signed a tenancy agreement, speak to the landlord about having pets. Outline the number and type of pets you have, or want to have, and ask if this is acceptable. Ensure that you get any response in writing, so that you have a copy if required in the future.
If necessary, and you are able, offer a bigger bond. Some landlords will include this provision in their tenancy agreements – you may have to provide an additional £100 bond, for example, for each dog that you wish to keep. This means that, if your pet does cause damage, the landlord will have the money to be able to pay for repairs and maintenance on the property.
Be reasonable with your approach, and avoid the temptation to simply smuggle a pet in without permission. Remember that your landlord does have the power to evict at the end of a tenancy agreement, or within a couple of months if you are out of the original contract dates.
When it comes time to rent a new property, you will want a reference from your current landlord. If you agreed to have a pet, ensured that it did not cause a nuisance for neighbours, and paid to have the property cleaned at the end of the tenancy, you will get a positive reference. If, on the other hand, you didn’t ask permission or your pet caused major damage, you will not get a good reference.
From a landlord’s perspective, many are unwilling to let to tenants with pets. Even well behaved pets increase the likelihood of damage to a property, while leaving a dog in a new property while you go out to work all day means there is a chance of your pet causing noise and becoming a nuisance to the neighbours.
With that said, landlords cannot simply refuse any and all pets. They have to be reasonable when responding to any request, but you don’t want to alienate your landlord, so you should be as reasonable with your request as you want your landlord to be with their response. Many individuals like having a pet for company, while families consider their pets a member of the extended family unit. Work with your landlord for the best possible outcome for all of you.