Landlord News,Law News

Landlords urged to be vigilant with student pet rental requests

Em Morley - February 24, 2021

Student accommodation platform UniHomes warns student rental sector letting agents and landlords to act with greater vigilance now that the model tenancy agreement has been changed.

The Government’s model tenancy agreement has been amended to prevent a blanket ban on pets. UniHomes highlights how this could lead to an increase in the number of students opting to have a pet while at university.

In response to a survey held by the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) last year, 2.1m people said they’d added a pet to their family during lockdown. 1.8m responded that they were planning to add a new pet to their household.

However, abandoned pets are still a big problem for the RSPCA, which received 985 reports of dumped and unwanted animals to its cruelty line in November 2020 alone.

UniHomes fears that this is a trend that could soon start to sweep the student rental sector due to recent changes to the model tenancy agreement now allowing well-behaved pets in rental properties.

Research by UniHomes found that just 6% of all student accommodation currently listed on the market is pet friendly. However, it also found that while just 10% of students currently choose to have their pet live with them, 48% would have a pet while at university if ‘pet friendly’ accommodation was more widely available.

Instead of a blanket ban on pets, landlords must now object in writing within 28 days of a pet request from a tenant. Rejections should only be made for a good reason such as the property being unpractical for the pet in question. Tenants will also remain responsible for any damages and the cost incurred.

With no distinction made between regular and student properties, the rental platform believes an easing of pet rental restrictions coupled with lockdown restrictions could cause an uplift in pet ownership amongst students. The unfortunate consequence of which could be an increase in pets being abandoned at the end of term time.

Phil Greaves, Co-Founder of UniHomes, commented: “Recent amendments to the model tenancy agreement mean that more landlords could be about to open up their homes to well-behaved pet roommates for students studying at university.

However, we would urge both landlords and letting agents to be vigilant when it comes to student pet rental requests and consider the welfare of the animal as much as the potential impact on their property.

We’ve seen numerous cases where students have left pets for the landlord or agent to deal with once they’ve finished their studies and we wouldn’t advise it for students who are keen to live the party lifestyle.”

Survey of 1,068 UK students carried out by Find Out Now (11th February 2021)

Do you have a pet in your student accommodation?

AnswerRespondents
No90%
Yes10%

Would you have brought a pet to university if pet-friendly student accommodation was more widely available?

AnswerRespondents
No52%
Yes48%

Pet-friendly stock based on the proportion of all student-specific rental stock that allows pets

LocationPet-friendly rentals as a % of all student-specific rental stock
Newport20%
London15%
Aberdeen12%
Edinburgh11%
Glasgow11%
Cambridge6%
Plymouth3%
Liverpool3%
Manchester3%
Sunderland3%
Southampton2%
Bradford2%
Birmingham2%
Portsmouth2%
Bournemouth2%
Oxford2%
Bristol1%
Swansea1%
Nottingham1%
Sheffield1%
Leeds1%
Newcastle0%
Leicester0%
Cardiff0%
Belfast0%
All6%
Data sourced from Zoopla.