Tenants and shelters in England hail bill allowing private renters to keep pets | Housing

Renters, pet owners and animal shelters have praised a long-awaited law that will allow tenants to keep pets in rented accommodation, after the government unveiled legislative changes to the private rented sector earlier this week.

Under the renters’ reform bill, tenants will have the legal right to request a pet in their home, which landlords cannot unreasonably refuse. The legal overhaul will also abolish section 21 no-fault evictions.

The move has been welcomed by pet owners who have struggled to find private accommodation, and charities and shelters which believe the changes will reduce the number of pets being abandoned.

About 10% of people contacting Dogs Trust to rehome their dog and more than 10% of requests for intake at Woodgreen Pets Charity last year cited issues with accommodation, including being unable to find somewhere pet-friendly.

Housing campaigners have hailed the bill as a necessary first step to improving the lives of the 11 million renters in England, including pet owners.

For Maeve, 24, who lives in Manchester, the changes mean she can look for a property with her cat, Griffin, when her lease ends in October. “All of the ads on Rightmove and [other property websites] either say ‘No pets sorry’ or say in order to have a pet, you’ll have to pay £150 extra on your rent or a huge deposit … it just made it really inaccessible,” she said.

Griffin has been living at Maeve’s parents house since their daughter moved out, but Maeve said this was unfair on her and her parents, who did not sign up to be responsible for her cat. She said owning a pet should not be based on whether you own a home, which is becoming increasingly unaffordable.

“This kind of change would be amazing. [Griffin] is literally the sweetest little cat. He’s 10 years old now. He’s probably not got a huge amount of his life left and I adore him. All he does is sleep all day and eat. He doesn’t even go out really.”

David Bowles, the head of campaigns and public affairs at the RSPCA, said he believed the charity would see a big reduction in the number of people giving up pets in order to get a rental property.

“We know if you’re a prospective pet owner going into rented accommodation and you’re turned down you have a choice: either you don’t go into that accommodation, or you get rid of your pet.

“The RSPCA welcomes this and we believe it’s going to make a big difference not just to pets, who do not have to go through the trauma of being separated from their owner, but also pet owners, because they get a lot of pleasure from having a pet,” Bowles said.

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Diana Anisimova, 30, said she and her husband struggled to find a landlord that would allow their indoor cat to stay with them when they were looking to rent in London, and had had to “pay a premium” in some places.

“My husband grew up with dogs. I’ve always wanted a dog as well and we live in a dog-friendly area at the moment in London with lots of parks around, she said.

“The main thing that’s stopping us is that we will have to find a rental with a cat and the dog, which will be much harder.

“On paper, [the bill] sounds brilliant because I think it is discriminatory to not allow pets … I’m not sure how much it will change in practice for us because if there’s 10 bidders and one of them doesn’t have a pet, the landlord will just go for them instead – they don’t have to justify that choice,” she said.

Carla Leete, the section manager for pet owner support at Woodgreen, said she hoped the legislation meant the charity could focus on animals in serious need. “I’d like to think we can focus resources on the animals that really do need to come in, where people really cannot care for them any more,” she said. “They’re the really needy ones, not these animals that are in loving homes already, where it shouldn’t be the case that owners have to give them up.”

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