The charity that runs the Lets with Pets scheme, which informs pet owners, landlords and letting agencies about privately renting with pets, has welcomed Labour proposals to make it a default for tenants to keep animals at home but has warned it needs to be done “in the right way”.
The Labour party published the plans last week, as part of a 50-point draft policy document called ‘Animal Welfare For The Many, Not The Few’.
Labour says it would consult landlords on giving tenants the right to keep pets as a default unless there is evidence the animal is causing a nuisance.
Sue Hayman MP, Labour’s shadow environment secretary, said: “Labour is the party of animal welfare.
“With new trade deals on the horizon and the UK no longer subject to EU-wide rules on animal welfare, we want to ensure there is a comprehensive legislative agenda in place so that the UK becomes a world leader on animal rights.”
Responding to the idea, Clare Kivlehan of the charity Dogs Trust, which is behind the Lets with Pets website, said: “It is great that from a Lets with Pets point of view that people are talking about this, but it needs to be done in the right way.
“If we are talking specifically about private landlords then we know the issues around what private landlords think about pets and that they will need assurances, quite rightly — they are commercial concerns.”
She said she understood that the proposal came at a difficult time for letting agents and landlords, who are already digesting the Draft Tenant Fees Bill.
She added: “It’s a difficult one because we know that private landlords are absorbing social housing and providing accommodation for what social housing providers should be providing.
“It’s a balance on both sides and it’s a very difficult debate but obviously from an animal welfare point of view, we are concerned about the numbers of people who can’t find private rented accommodation. It is only going to get worse as the generation now can’t afford to buy properties and will be renting for life.”
Meanwhile, the Residential Landlords Association said Labour’s proposals raised “a number of questions” which it would work with the party to address.
Policy director David Smith asked: “Will landlords be able to charge higher deposits to reflect the increased risks of damage to a property where pets are allowed?
“Will insurance premiums increase for landlords to reflect the greater risk of allowing pets to be kept as a default position?
“What happens in shared homes and blocks of flats where one or more of the tenants do not want, or are allergic to, a pet?
“Labour will need to respond positively to all these points if landlords are to have confidence in this suggested policy.”