22.10.2020 08:42 am

Jasmine’s Law: Andrew Rosindell MP seeks to limit ‘no pets’ policies for renters

It is brilliant news that Andrew Rosindell MP has taken the time to push a bill through to end pet discrimination with rental properties. In London we need more dog friendly accommodation, particularly landlords who will consider more than 1 dog. Some landlords will only accept cats. Only 15% of London landlords offer pet friendly housing.

This has been an issue across the UK and in particular in the Capital for many years. Antiquated leaseholds have prevented many tenants as well as homeowners from having a pet. In some cases the landlord wants to allow a dog, but the lease say no, despite that fact that you own the property. Over 30% of tenants in London have a dog or cat and are too afraid to notify their landlords. They look over their ‘shoulders in fear’ that their landlord might suddenly knock on the door and the dog bowl in sitting there in plain view.

Within the last 5 years, we have seen shops, including big Department Stores listed in the Evening Standard Cafes and pubs (during non-pandemic) times opening their doors to people with dogs. You walk down the street and a dog bowl sits outside to welcome you in with your dog. It makes sense, otherwise you are turning away potential customers.

The last main bastion of pet discrimination has been private landlords and freeholders.

The same applies here as with the shops. Landlords are unknowingly turning away decent and responsible tenants who will want to stay for longer periods of time.

The 2019 Tenants Fees Act has made it more difficult to rent with a dog or cat. When it was put together by the current government, nobody took into account how it would negatively affect pet owners.

With increasing unaffordability to get on the housing ladder, younger pet owners are a generation of renters. Their pets are part of the family. They are their children and they will spoil them with treats and gifts, including a Christmas present.

The Tenant Fees Act has been ill thought out when it comes to people living with pets for the following reasons:

  • Landlords deposits are capped to 5 weeks rent to cover damage etc. Many landlords feel that is not enough and deters them from allowing a dog, particularly a big one or multiple.
  • As a landlord you cannot now make it a condition of the tenancy that the property is professionally deep cleaned after the tenancy. Again, this deters landlords from allowing pets due to mess, hairs and allergies for future tenants.
  • Some landlords have decided to make up extra fees due to the act by charging pet rents, anything ranging from £20-50 per pet per month.

Further Obstacles For Pet Owners

  • You cannot force some landlords to accept pets. Some will not for religious reasons full stop.
  • Irresponsible pet owners who make a mess in a property and on the street are giving dogs a bad name.
  • Bad tenants For a while there have been calls for pet friendly rental reforms as highlighted in Dogs Today Magazine. At Pets Lets, we carried out a recent survey amongst property and pet professionals to find out their views on renting in London with dogs. The results have been highlighted by The Dog Vine, and the following points came out:
  • 100% of people surveyed feel that there should be more pet friendly properties
  • 80% of those same people feel it has got more difficult to rent with a dog or cat

Click on The Dog Vine link above to find out more.

Apart from Changing Legislation, Educate Landlords About Pet Owners

  • Pet owners need to work together. It takes a few irresponsible people to give dogs in particular a bad name.
  • It is about educating landlords. They need to realise that pet owners are 99% responsible. They look after the property and tend to stay longer as they are grateful to have a ‘roof over their heads’.
  • With any landlord time is money, so if tenants with pets stay longer, are responsible and that minimizes void periods, it is financially appealing.
  • Pet owners in London and across the UK is a growing market which cannot be ignored. Nearly 50% of the UK owns a pet. London and across the country has seen sharp rises in people adopting puppies due to lockdown.
  • If you don’t become a pet friendly property, other landlords will and you will miss out to the local competition.

A Summary of Londoners & Dogs by A Londoner

I have witnessed the Capital change over the years in many ways. There has been a huge increase in the number of pet owners and more noticeably Londoners with dogs, mostly puppies with pre and post lockdown.

Like with children, there is a responsibility with having a dog. Dogs are for life and not just while it suits. What has become increasingly apparent is the amount of dog poo on the streets. Before it was uncommon, now dog poo is a regular obstacle which you have to swerve whilst walking along the pavement. It is gradually getting worse and could become an issue.

Dog owners are not picking up after their dogs. This really does not help the perception of dogs by non-dog owners, which includes landlords. The effects could be huge in the future, if people do not clear up after their dogs.

Unlike many other European countries, living with a dog is an issue. You dog is part of the family. For years it has been referred to as ‘man’s best friend’. During these troubled times with lockdown, inability to visit family, financial pressures and general uncertainty, people’s mental health is being affected. To have to give up you dog, would be too much for many. There is an argument for landlords not allowing dogs and cats. However, there has to be a balance as some of it is bureaucratic and people being lazy. Easier to let to a tenant without a pet. Much easier. A dog friendly rental is just problematic.

You don’t ask a tenant if their child or children are well behaved? So why does it apply to dogs when the majority are well trained and sleep most of the day. Dogs and cats are part of the family. Research has shown that stroking a dog or cat relaxes people and is good for their well-being. Happy tenants make a happy landlord.

Russell Hunt, is the Founder of Pets Lets, and a staunch advocate of making London a pet-friendlier place to live. We want to educate landlords on the benefits of letting to people with pets. Pets Lets is a London pet-friendly property portal where landlords can list for free. We also offer a pet-friendly relocation and viewing service.