Anyone who has rented with pets will probably be able to tell you tales of frustration, rejection, and in a worst case scenario, the loss of a much-loved family member.
But now animal charities are calling on the government to enshrine the rights of renters in law and provide more suitable guidelines for those looking for homes with their furry friends.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced last week a revision of the government’s model tenancy agreement to allow ‘well behaved’ pets to be allowed to live in rented accommodation.
Currently only 7% of rental tenancies allow pets, according to gov.uk.
However, this is only a guideline and pet owners are often overlooked by landlords in favour of those who don’t have pets.
Dogs Trust has hailed the announcement as a step in the right direction, but want to see the government do more and put concrete action in place.
Head of outreach projects Clare Kivlehan said: “If this is to be successful, there’s more work that needs to be done by the government to make sure that this gets through to those that need it.”
Research by Cats Protection found that a third of landlords who don’t accept cats didn’t actively refuse to accept them, but instead follow a standard template or advice from a letting agent.
It also found that 62% of landlords who did not accept cats were worried about damage to their property, but 83% of landlords who did allow cats did not experience any form of damage.
Clare said: “Pets bring a huge amount of joy and comfort to people’s lives, helping their owners through difficult times and improving their mental and physical well-being. So, it’s a shame that thousands of animal-loving tenants and their children can’t experience this because they rent their homes instead of owning property.”
In response, the Dogs Protection set up Lets With Pets in 2009. The scheme helps landlords, agencies and tenants with finding solutions that work for them.
In 2018 over 1000 animals were brought to the Dogs Trust as a result of being given up due to renting restrictions.
Clare said: “It’s very emotional and traumatic. They do it as an absolute last resort.
“People will do all sorts to stay with their pets when faced with that situation. They will move hundreds of miles, move their jobs, or move back in with their home owning parents.”
Clare says a key area that the government and the private sector can learn from is the domestic holiday sector.
Holiday cottages for rent usually allow pets, knowing that people taking domestic holiday’s often don’t want to leave their dogs behind.
She said: “This is a sector that has adopted a positive policy from a financial point of view, but the private rental sector is also a financial and commercial sector.”
She explained that pet owners had even gone as far to rent long term in the holiday sector so that they don’t have to relinquish their pets.
“These are the steps people will go through when their pets are seen as their family members.
“It also shows that it’s not just those who have brought their pets to us, but the thousands of other people who are in quandary because they can’t find somewhere appropriate to rent with their pet.”
She explained that not allowing pets to live in rented accommodation also adds to the cycle of pets living in shelters long-term.
She said: “There’s also a whole sector of people who would make great pet owners, so from a rehoming centre’s point of view, there’s a lot of people who would love the opportunity to have the pleasures and benefits of having pets but can’t have them.”
Officer for Cats Protection Sam Westcott explained how landlords actually have a lot more to gain than they think by letting pets into their properties.
He said: “Advertising properties this way will help landlords stand out from the crowd and attract a wider pool of potential tenants.
“Not only this, responsible cat owners tend to value their rented property more and are more likely to put down roots and settle for longer.”