Renters (Reform) Bill – tenants with pets and what insurance will cover

Renters (Reform) Bill – tenants with pets and what insurance will cover
19th July 2023

A year on from the Government publishing its White Paper on rental reform, the Renters (Reform) Bill has at last begun to make its way through Parliament. However, given that no date has yet been set for the ‘second reading’, which is when MPs have their first chance to scrutinise the proposals, it’s likely to be at least a year before the Bill passes, and possibly 18 months or more until the changes become law.

One of the changes proposed in the Bill is that landlords should no longer be able to turn down a tenant’s request to keep a pet without a good reason. This is already the case for landlords who use the Model Tenancy Agreement made available by the government, which was amended in January 2021 to ensure consent for pets would be the default position.



The Bill proposes extending this to all private tenancies – but that doesn’t mean all landlords will be forced to accept pets. If a landlord has a valid objection, they should be able to refuse their tenant’s request. Reasons could include:

  • There is a lease clause that prohibits pets
  • The property isn’t suitable for type of pet the tenant wants to keep – e.g. a small flat may not be suitable for a large, energetic dog
  • They themselves have a severe allergy to the proposed type of animal

What’s the best way for landlords and tenants to approach the change?

Given that this clause has already been in effect under the government’s Model Tenancy Agreement for more than two years, with few issues, it may well come into force at some point.

So what can landlords and tenants do to help ensure that a tenancy with a pet goes smoothly?

  1. Tenants should be realistic about the suitability of a property for housing their pet before making an application – e.g. is it big enough with an enclosed garden for a dog?
  2. Landlords should meet the pet, to see in person how it behaves and assess whether their property is likely to be suitable.
  3. Landlords should take a reference for the pet from a previous landlord – was any damage caused to the property and would they be happy to accommodate the pet again? If the tenant has never rented with the pet before and it’s registered with a local vet, landlords could contact them to find out if they have any reservations around the pet living in its proposed new home.
  4. Ideally, tenants should offer to take out specialist pet insurance and provide evidence that they have a policy in place before the tenancy begins. This is something landlords can insist on, as the Bill also proposes amending the Tenant Fees Act so that pet insurance becomes a ‘permitted payment’.
  5. If the landlord has any concerns, the tenant could offer to pay a slightly higher monthly rent to secure the property, please note that deposits in England are capped at 5 weeks rent  for rent under £50,000 per annum



Do standard landlord and tenant insurance policies cover pet damage?

Generally speaking, landlord insurance policies don’t cover damage to the property or furnishings that has clearly been caused by pets, e.g. scratching, clawing and chewing. Tenant insurance will usually cover tenants for accidental damage – for example, if a dog’s tail knocked over and smashed a lamp – but not for things like scratch marks or urine stains on the carpet, as those are considered ‘wear and tear’.

This is why it’s advisable for tenants to take out specialist pet insurance if possible, to help protect themselves financially and give their landlord peace of mind that the cost of rectifying any damage will not fall on them.

If you would like to discuss exactly what is covered by our own specialist landlord and tenant insurance policies, just call us on 01903 890044 or email and one of the team will be happy to talk though your requirements.

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