Pet Rent: When tenancy agreements become the dog’s dinner

When the first Atomic Bomb was about to be detonated in the New Mexico desert, no one was quite sure what would happen. Enrico Fermi, the Italian physicist, even speculated it might ignite the atmosphere.

That the Tenant Fees Act, introduced only a few months ago, has produced the Pet Rent saga. It isn’t quite as bad an unintended result for the Government as accidentally setting the planet on fire. Still it doesn’t make for great reading.

Over the last few months, there have been reports that renters who have pets, have suddenly found that their fluffy or feathered companions have suddenly attracted extra costs. The Guardian reported that a family in Bicester found each of their pets attracted an extra £40 a month. On top of the nearly £1,000 they were already paying in rent per month.

Now if you have a tenancy agreement which had previously allowed for pets, but suddenly seems to have a hidden cost, what can you do about it?

The Tenant Fees Act itself states, in section 1, that a landlord must not require a relevant person to make a prohibited payment in respect of a tenancy. Subsection 6 helpfully expands on that by stating that prohibited payments include any made in connection with the variation of a tenancy. So it may well be that the Government takes action to curb this new practice.

In the meantime however, should you be a tenant with pets and your landlord suddenly decides that you should pay extra rent for the privilege, without that being stipulated in the tenancy agreement, it will be a breach of that agreement. Consequently do not hesitate to seek legal advice.

Askew’s experienced litigation team are well versed in disputes between tenants and their landlords and will be more than happy to handle any queries you may have.