I was listening to the Stooges this morning, drinking my tea and wondering if I could postpone those DIY tasks for just a little bit longer, when a Twitter post from Robert Jenrick MP (Sec of State for Housing) popped into view. The Minister proudly proclaims that he was “… announcing changes to the Government’s model tenancy agreement to make it easier for tenants to keep well-behaved pets in rented properties” and then offered me the chance to read a press release.
Now, I live for housing law. I wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity like that. And it would mean postponing the DIY for at least another 10 minutes. Sadly, it was as poor as the 2012 offering (“Apres”) from Iggy Pop (seriously, that is a bad album – Iggy does “La Vie En Rose”). It amounts to this.
At some (unspecified) date later this year, the government will re-issue the “Model Tenancy Agreement” (here) so as to remove restrictions on keeping pets. Given that the model agreement isn’t mandatory, it’s hard to see how this merited a tweet and a press release.
Except that, if you read down further in the press release, the caveats show just how vague this idea is. Two particular points merit comment, one of which is more serious than the other.
First, the government is clear that it wants to encourage landlords to allow “well behaved pets”. But who decides that? On what standard?
Secondly, and perhaps more seriously, there could still be a”…total bans on renters with pets…” but this “…should only be implemented where there is good reason, such as in smaller properties or flats where owning a pet could be impractical.” But size of the flat is relative to size of the animal, surely? If you’re going to keep a Great Dane then I can see that a one bed flat might not be idea, but if you’re really into stick insects then perhaps you could manage. Also, impracticality doesn’t come into it if the landlord is a leaseholder and his lease prohibits any pet (see, e.g. this case), or if the property is an HMO and the licence conditions prohibit pets.
Where does this leave us? With a silly press release and no meaningful reform promised or even contemplated. Just rely on your existing statutory right to keep chickens.