Renters (Reform) Bill: A Tour Bus Guide – Stop 3: Pets
The Renters (Reform) Bill has been published. What does it say? What does it mean, for landlords and for tenants?
In this series, members of the 42BR Housing Team stop off at different landmarks, considering the implications of the new law along the way.
In the White Paper which preceded the Renters (Reform) Bill (entitled “A fairer private rented sector”), it was noted, amongst other things, that “domestic pets can bring joy, happiness, and comfort to their owners, as well as supporting their mental and physical well-being including through challenging times”. The White Paper proposed to “legislate to ensure landlords do not unreasonably withhold consent when a tenant requests to have a pet in their home, with the tenant able to challenge a decision”.
Enter the Renters (Reform) Bill, introduced to the House of Commons and given its first reading on 17 May 2023. Included within the proposed changes are amendments to current legislation, in particular the addition of a new Section 16A into the Housing Act 1988:
- Implying a term into residential tenancies that tenants may keep pets;
- Preventing landlords from unreasonably refusing consent to tenants’ requests to keep pets; and
- Mandating landlords to give or refuse consent within 42 days of tenants’ requests (subject to some limited exceptions).
Tenants who feel their landlord has unreasonably refused their request to keep pets will have the right make a complaint to the Private Rented Sector Ombudsman. Tenants will also have the right to issue court proceedings against their landlord for specific performance of the obligation created by the implied term.
The Bill also recognises the need for insurance covering the risk of “pet damage to a level that is reasonable having regard to the pet and the dwelling house in question”.
To that end, the Bill proposes the addition of a new Section 16C in the 1988 Act, making it an implied term of landlords’ consent that tenants will comply with any condition requiring tenants to (a) maintain adequate insurance cover in respect of the pet; or (b) pay the landlord’s reasonable costs of maintaining such cover. The Bill proposes consequential changes to The Tenant Fees Act 2019, allowing landlords to stipulate such insurance conditions.
Once the Bill is passed into law, the changes will take effect via a two-stage implementation process:
- The first change will take place a minimum of 6 months after the Bill receives royal assent: from that date, all new tenancies will be subject to the new implied terms.
- Then, a minimum of 12 months after that date, all existing tenancies will also transition to the new system.
So, if all goes smoothly, tenants’ rights to keep pets (subject to insurance or reasonable refusal) should apply to all tenancies within 18 months of the Bill becoming law.
A Tour Bus Guide to the Renters (Reform) Bill
Stop 3: Pets
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