Can I own a pet while renting?

Can I get a pet in my current rented home? And, how can I persuade a new landlord to rent to me with a pet?

Answer

A recent survey by SpareRoom found that of the 1,261 landlords surveyed, 69% said they don’t allow pets in their properties. So before you think about buying a pet, you must be aware that it can be a difficult task to convince landlords to rent to you. However, there are some things you can do.

You want to get a pet in a home you are already renting?

If you are already renting a property and you would like a pet, the first thing you should do is contact your landlord about it. There are some pros to letting out to pet owners you should mention in this contact. It indicates that you are more likely to stay in the property long-term, meaning the landlord will not have to go through the costly and time-consuming process of putting the property on the market.

If they mention the risk of damage to the property, remind them that the deposit you will have already paid them would cover this damage. However, do not forget that the landlord cannot claim back any money from the security deposit for fair wear and tear, so they should not claim back any of the deposit if you simply own a pet that has not caused damage during your tenancy. We have an information page on deposit disputes here.

Also, remember that while a landlord may not be open to you getting certain pets or breeds, they may accept another. Check with them to see if they would allow for an alternative.

Ultimately however, it is up to the landlord whether you are allowed to have a pet. Although the Model Tenancy Agreement in England was changed in January 2021 to encourage landlords not to put blanket ban on pets, this is only guidance and is not legally binding.

You are moving and need to convince a landlord to rent to a pet owner?

If you are moving with a pet there are a number of ways you can demonstrate responsible pet ownership to a potential landlord. Firstly, you need to go to your vet and ask them for a letter confirming your animal is neutered and in receipt of regular flea/worm treatment, that their vaccines are up to date and (if it’s a cat or dog) that they are microchipped.

Secondly, if you have a good relationship with your current landlord, you can also ask them for a pet reference confirming they’ve never had any pet related issues during your tenancy.

Finally, take pictures of your current property, especially the carpets, soft furnishings (if not yours) and wall coverings to show there’s no pet damage. You can find more information about demonstrating responsible pet ownership here.

As mentioned above however, landlords still have the power to refuse any pet owners from renting their properties. It’s a numbers game, and you'll need to apply for as many suitable properties as possible.

What are your legal rights?

Whether the landlord wants to accept pets into a property or not, assistance dogs must be allowed. This is due to anti-discriminatory laws against disabled tenants.

Landlords and agents in England cannot ask for a higher tenancy deposit for renting with pets, but landlords and agents can charge higher rent if you do plan on having a pet. This must be made clear to you in how the property is advertised.

In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland however, as set out in the Renting Homes Act 2019, the security deposit is not capped in the legislation. This means that agents in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland can take a higher security deposit, if the tenant has a pet.

If the property is a leasehold (e.g. a flat), the landlord may not be able to offer it as a pet-friendly let. Many leases have pet bans, which cannot be changed unless every leaseholder is consulted and agrees to this.

For more information on pet ownership in the rental market, please follow these links:

AdvoCATS

Find a pet-friendly property

NOAH

APPG Cats