Part two in a series of three articles examining the legal complexities surrounding pet-ownership by tenants and leaseholders. You can view part 1 here.
Part 2 – Revised Model Tenancy Agreement
In this note we will be looking at the recent revisions made to the Government’s model tenancy agreement by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).
The revisions aim to stop landlords being able to impose a blanket ban on pets. The standard ‘no pet’ clauses (as discussed in part 1) have been amended in the model tenancy agreement so that the tenant can now request consent from the landlord to keep a pet.
Limitations of the revised model tenancy agreement
The aim of the DLUHC is to try to create a more pet-friendly long lease for residential tenants. Will this, however, make pet ownership easier for tenants in practice? It is a mixed picture:
- The use of the revised model tenancy will not apply to any existing leases. They remain in place as a binding contract unless and until expressly varied by agreement as between the parties (usually, landlord and tenant);
- The adoption of the revised model agreement remains entirely voluntary for landlords who are free to use it, or not;
- Whilst the new model tenancy contains a trigger for a deposit top-up in case of damage by a pet, it does not provide any detail as to how withdrawals would work. This is a grey area which might put landlords off.
- If the revised model tenancy is not adopted, the position for pet owners remains the same (i.e. under the provisions of the existing lease or any new lease the landlord is willing to grant). If that lease contains an absolute prohibition on pets, that ban will remain unless varied by later agreement. Alternatively, if there is a qualified covenant, by which a pet can be kept with consent, then the reasonableness test in the Victory Place case should be considered (see part 1 of this series).
Although the DLUHC’s intention is to make keeping pets easier for tenants, it appears that the revised model tenancy agreement is rather limited in effect. You might say it is all bark and no bite.
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