Pets in rented properties: Can my landlord charge me to have a cat or dog?

Having a pet can be a wonderful thing, but for renters, having a lovable animal companion could now see them charged a hefty sum.

By Claire Schofield
Friday, 6th September 2019, 4:01 pm
Tenants can now face additional rent charges of up to 600 annually to have pets in their home

Following a shake-up of rules for landlords earlier this year, tenants can now face additional rent charges of up to £600 annually to have pets in their home.

Lost income charges

The introduction of the Tenant Fees Act on 1 June saw agents and landlords banned from charging fees to tenants in the private rented sector.

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Tenants can now face additional rent charges of up to 600 annually to have pets in their home

Before the change, private renters in England had been paying a pricey £13 million per month in letting fees, according to Citizen’s Advice.

However, landlords have been trying to make up for the lost income by collecting costs elsewhere.

Campaign group Generation Rent said it has started to see landlords charge tenants with “pet rents” at a cost between £25 and £50 per month – amounting to £300 or £600 per year.

The Tenant Fees Bill

Before the tenant fees ban, landlords would often take additional rent as a safety deposit against pets in homes

Before the tenant fees ban was introduced, landlords would often take an additional week’s rent to serve as a safety deposit against having pets in homes.

This would force renters to pay between £192 and £384 extra at the start of a tenancy, according to housing charity Shelter’s average weekly private rent estimate. The deposit would later be repaid, minus any damage, at the end of a tenancy.

However, the Tenant Fees Bill caps deposits at no more than five weeks of rent, meaning tenants are now being charged more each month.

Speaking of the rising costs, Georgie Laming, campaigns manager at Generation Rent, told The Sun, “It’s already difficult for tenants to find a landlord who will allow a pet.

“Unfortunately, with changes to deposit rules, we’ve seen an increase in landlords charging ‘pet rents’ – adding £25 or £50 to monthly rents. This is the wrong approach from landlords.

“Tenants with pets are more likely to want a stable, long term home, which will benefit the landlord – and that’s a point tenants should make in their negotiations.

“Tenants are already paying their deposits and are liable for damage at the end of the tenancy – this is where landlords can charge for damage from pets – not through hiking up rents.”

Lawful cost coverage

The ban on allowing landlords and letting agents to take an extra deposit from tenants to cover the cost of a pet has resulting in landlords upping their rent charges – as it is now the only legal way for them to cover the potential additional cost of pets.

David Cox, chief executive or ARLA Propertymark explained, “This practice is a direct result of capping deposits under the tenant fees ban, as this problem didn’t exist before 1 June.

“There’s been a long-standing campaign from the Dogs Trust, called Lets with Pets, which encouraged landlords and letting agents to take a couple of weeks extra deposit to cover the cost of a pet.

“But this practice is now unlawful under the ban and landlords are charging additional rent as it’s the only lawful avenue to mitigate the risk of damage from pets.”