In the UK, owning a pet in rented accommodation can be challenging, and often not possible at all, with only around 7% of properties on the UK rental market currently advertised as pet friendly. At NOAH, we believe that responsible pet owners should not be excluded from the ability to share their life with a companion animal because of their living situation, and pets should not be excluded from having loving homes due to restrictive tenancy agreements.
Mental health is an urgent issue in the UK, and much research has shown how pets can support healthier mindsets and overall wellbeing by forming emotional bonds, preventing loneliness, providing sensory relief and improving feelings of safety. Having a companion animal can also encourage a more active lifestyle, by providing a sense of purpose and responsibility that gets us outside and moving around. Yet effectively, with the number of people entering into rented accommodation on the rise, around 1/3 of people in the UK may be excluded from pet ownership and the health benefits pets can bring, because pet-friendly properties are not available on the rental market. But this issue does not just impact people.
Representing the UK animal health industry, good animal health and welfare is at the forefront of everything NOAH does, and therefore the challenges surrounding pet ownership in rental properties concerns us for another reason: fundamentally, fewer animals can access lifelong loving homes, and this is negatively impacting animal health and welfare. Earlier this year we launched our campaign: ‘Securing the Right to Rent with Pets: Making One Health Housing a Reality’ with the ambition to widen access to pets for those living in rented accommodation in the UK. We are delighted to support Jen Berezai at AdvoCATS and the important ‘Heads for Tails!’ report.
The single biggest opportunity to secure the right to rent with pets lies within the emerging proposals for the Renters’ Reform Bill and, as she suggests, an amendment to the Tenant Fees Act (2019), which would allow landlords to require pet insurance in order to permit pets in their properties. An alternative permitted payment could be a “pet deposit” with its own cap, to offer landlords a choice of measures that would encourage them to allow pets