Quote Ref: WS1

Labour proposes tenants have a default right to own pets in rental properties

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As part of a package of proposed animal welfare measures, Labour wants a default right for tenants to keep a pet in their rental properties reported BBC news on Wednesday. 

Currently, some rental agreements drawn up by landlords insist on no animals. Many landlords do not allow pets in their let properties due to the potential extra costs involved (damage caused by an animal to fixtures and fittings, for example, or needing to deep clean a property once a tenant has left). Those that do give permission for a tenant to have a pet may charge a higher rent or deposit to cover off any additional costs.

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) however, have concerns, and have written to Shadow DEFRA Secretary, Sue Hayman MP for clarification.

RLA Policy Director David Smith said: “The proposal raises a number of questions which we will work constructively with the Labour Party to address.

“Will landlords be able to charge higher deposits to reflect the increased risks of damage to a property where pets are allowed? Will insurance premiums increase for landlords to reflect the greater risk of allowing pets to be kept as a default position? What happens in shared homes and blocks of flats where one or more of the tenants do not want or are allergic to, a pet?

“Labour will need to respond positively to all these points if landlords are to have confidence in this suggested policy.”

Echoing these thoughts, Stephen Bradley, MD at property insurance specialists UKinsuranceNET added: “I am not sure this is workable. What would happen in the case of owner-occupied apartment blocks under management committees or Right To Manage where no pets are allowed but then one of the owners or his beneficiaries decides to rent out one of the flats?

“Housing is a market in the UK that is failing. There are basic rights that tenants do not currently have proper access to – affordable, well-maintained properties with secure tenancy contracts are a pipe dream for many.

“Yet, this is a policy which focuses on animal welfare rather than housing.

Richard Lambert of the National Landlords Association said: “You can't take a blanket approach to keeping or refusing pets. The NLA has consistently supported schemes that encourage landlords to take on pet owners.”

He warned, however, that high-rise flats or those without gardens may not be suitable for keeping some animals, nor beneficial to their welfare.

As part of the animal welfare package, Labour said it will also work with care homes to see how they could accommodate more animals.