The Government will change the model tenancy agreement to remove the blanket restriction on pets, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced, stating:

"Pets bring a huge amount of joy and comfort to people’s lives, helping their owner’s through difficult times and improving their mental and physical wellbeing. So, it’s a shame that thousands of animal-loving tenants and their children can’t experience this because they rent their homes instead of owning property."

The wording of the revision is yet to be agreed but it is thought to allow ‘well-behaved’ pets, enabling those occupying properties under short-hold tenancy agreements to keep pets in their properties.

However, members of the opposition feel this is more of a publicity stunt then any actual progress for tenants. The model agreement is optional and quite often disregarded in favour of the landlord’s own preferred agreement. However, this may encourage landlords to make the changes themselves.

Some tenants may still not be able to keep pets at their property if the tenancy is of long-leasehold property and the keeping of pets is restricted by the covenants of the lease. Even if the ban of pets is not an outright restriction in the long-lease, the freeholder or management company may be entitled to refuse consent. This was the case in Victory Place Management Company Limited v Kuehn. In that case, Mr and Mrs Kuehn wanted to keep their pet dog at the property but consent was rejected by the management company who maintained a blanket policy on banning pets unless for medical reasons, such as guide dogs. The High Court and Court of Appeal maintained that the management company had acted reasonably in reaching their decision. 

Furthermore, the tenant may encounter problems over the definition of a ‘well-behaved pet’ and some interesting caselaw may follow if this wording is used. 

Regardless of the detail, the announcement is an indication of the Government’s intention to continue to make improvements for renters, as Jenrick said:

"This is part of this new government’s mission to improve life for tenants, recognising that more are renting and for longer in life. We’ve already taken action, banning unfair letting fees and capping tenancy deposits, saving tenants across England at least £240 million a year, and I will continue to take more steps to secure a better deal for renters up and down the country."

Further announcements, including the banning of section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions are likely to follow. The implementation of such changes and the overall implications for the housing market, particularly the buy-to-let sector, will be much commented upon.