It’s one of the worst things about living in rented accommodation – along with the eye-watering rents and sometimes-mouldy walls, of course – but Labour is now proposing a change to the rules so that all tenants have the ‘default’ right to have pets in their homes.
Currently, under the 2015 Consumer Rights Act, landlords can refuse permission for us renters to have cats and dogs on the grounds of the animal’s size, damage that could be done to the property or any impact of future rental prospects.
This means that in reality, unless you get lucky and stumble on a cool animal-loving landlord, you’re pretty much stuffed. And this issue is quite personal to me; my feline-obsessed boyfriend and I have been bargaining with landlords for YEARS to let us have a cat but we’ve been refused every single time, so this change would make a lot of difference.
Making the announcement, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Sue Hayman MP said: “Recognising that currently for the majority of people under 30, buying a home is sadly less and less of an affordable option, Labour would seek to improve the rights of renters to own pets that do not cause a nuisance.”
And animal welfare charities said this move would not only be good for tenants – but for pets too.
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home’s director of communications and external affairs Dee McIntosh told ShortList: “Battersea welcomes the Labour Party’s proposal to make it easier for people in rented accommodation to own pets.
“Sadly, here at Battersea we see many cases of dogs and cats coming through our doors because their owners are moving into rented accommodation and are not allowed to take their animals. Battersea would like to see many more local authorities and housing associations having more pet-friendly tenancy agreements.”
A spokeswoman for the RSCPA added: “Pets are part of our families and, as well as being wonderful companions, also bring us many benefits for our health and general wellbeing. We welcome this proposal and would encourage landlords to allow tenants to take pets into homes as it currently can causes a lot of distress and upset if families aren’t able to take their pet with them when they move, and charities such as the RSPCA are left picking up the pieces.
“We have produced booklets for housing agencies and landlords giving them useful and practical advice on this issue.
“This proposal could also mean that people who were previously unable to keep a pet may consider adopting one of the many thousands that are waiting in centres for loving new homes up and down the country.”
Labour also announced a number of other animal-welfare measures, including:
- Ending the badger cull
- Closing ‘loopholes’ that permit illegal fox hunting
- Bringing in a ban on all fur imports
- Creating ‘blue belt’ zones to protect the marine environment around the UK
(Images: Mike Burke / Conner Baker)