A ‘petty’ proposal?

Responding to the Labour party’s proposal to give tenants a legal right to keep their pet in their accommodation they are renting. The proposal has been met with varying amounts of disapproval surprisingly, from both ends of the political spectrum.

The view from the left is there are more pressing issues we should be dealing with, for example, no-fault evictions (simply meaning, landlords evicting tenants without good reason). Secondly, increasing the supply of social housing which is currently severely low.

The view from the right is, landlords should be able to dictate who and what lives in their property and should be able to prevent any fees which could occur from pet ownership.

However, we shouldn’t be so fast to disregard labour’s proposal.

I argue strongly, our social trends have changed dramatically in the last 30 years. An annual report from estate agency Knight Frank has stated by the end of 2021 almost 5.8 million households are expected to be in private rentals as home ownership and social renting continues to decline.

Isn’t it right?

That we should allow tenants to keep their pets as it is increasingly more likely that they will not be able to obtain their own home. There are great positives here for the landlord. Firstly, while the tenant could have limited options on where to live due to no pet clauses. This means the tenant could become a long-term tenant. Figures from the RSPCA has estimated that 12 million (42 percent of ) households have pets with around 51 million pets owned. This means for the landlords which will allow pets they will have a bigger pool on which to find their tenant.

There is the flip side. If landlords want to prevent damage from pet ownership they should be able to. I do agree in part. However, I wonder if their sole aim is to preserve the value of the property why are they renting it out their property in the first place? A fair negotiation here would be a clause in the contract between the landlord and the tenant ensuring if any damage was done to their property by their pet the tenant is responsible for the costs generated.

I am under the belief that no pet clauses in housing contracts between private and social landlords and their tenant are simply a display of power. A display of power where the private landlord values profit over the social needs of their tenant. While social landlords attempt to dictate their tenant’s lifestyle.

The starting point whether housing tenants should gain statutory rights to keep their pets should start on the basis of animal welfare. A cat in a high rise flat is inappropriate regardless of if the tenant owns the property or if they are renting the property. If the animal offers no real threat to the property of its surrounding what is the problem with allowing pet ownership?

The relevant legal and regulatory information highlights important factors which should be abided by from both landlord and housing tenant.

In particular, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 places a duty of care on the pet owners to provide for their animals basic need’s. If this can be ensured by the tenant I don’t see any logical reason to disallow pet ownership for housing tenants.

The Disability Discrimination Act 2005, also highlights important reasoning for a statutory right for housing tenants to have homeownership. The act states, ‘Assistance dogs such as guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for the disabled must always be permitted’. Currently, private landlords do not need to provide reasoning for disallowing pet ownership so it could be possible for landlords to swiftly dismiss disabled housing tenants due to them needing a dog for assistance. Although, the act states ‘ prohibits anyone from renting or selling property from discriminating against a disabled person’. Without a statutory right for pet ownership in place, I believe housing tenants could be unfairly treated.

Both pros and cons are valid and worthwhile arguments. However, as more uncertainty looms over housing particularly the private sector, is being used more as a means to an end. I believe a statutory right for pet ownership needs to be carefully considered before being dismissed as a ludicrous proposal.


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