Animal Conservation

Animal welfare charity wants to see owners encouraged to allow pets

The RSPCA has backed a new petition calling for an end to blanket bans on keeping pets in the private rental sector in Wales.

Sam Swash’s petition, titled ‘Ban the use of ‘no pets clauses’ in rental contracts in Wales”, is collecting signatures until the end of April; and has already crossed the first threshold required to be considered by the Senedd petitions committee.

The RSPCA Cymru is now urging others in Wales to follow suit and sign the petition in support of those with pets looking for a home in the private rental sector.

In July, the Rental Homes (Wales) Act 2016 comes into force – reforming the rental sector in Wales; including through the provision of contracts, the way properties are maintained and communication between landlords and tenants.

However, although the Welsh Government has published draft documentation in recent months relating to the new law, there remains no specific reference to preventing blanket bans on pets or encouraging owners to adopt pet contracts. rental models that allow pets in their properties. Although the permission of pets is up to the owners, the RSPCA wants the Welsh Government to ensure that through standard agreements consent for pets becomes the default position, which is regularly promoted to owners .

The situation in Wales is currently less favorable to pet owners than in England – where a government-led model tenancy agreement, introduced in January 2021, encourages owners to allow pets by default, except in exceptional circumstances .

Speaking about why he decided to start the petition, Sam Swash said: ‘As a resident of a North Wales village next to the English border, it seemed totally unfair to me that Being allowed to keep a pet in rented accommodation may be dependent on something as simple as which part of the UK you live in.

“It is really disappointing that Wales is still allowing blanket clauses without pets when the UK government has already moved to remove them from rental contracts in England. Being able to keep a pet shouldn’t be a luxury for those lucky enough to own their own home.

Billie-Jade Thomas, public affairs adviser to the RSPCA – who has experienced the difficulties renters have when it comes to finding properties that allow pets – said: “With Wales generally – and correctly – recognized as ‘a nation of animal lovers’, it’s surprising that we still lag behind when it comes to requiring owners not to ban pets altogether company in rented accommodation.

“I have personally experienced how difficult it is for me to find a rental property that allows pets, with no pet clauses being commonplace in listings. Pets play an important role in improving the mental health and well-being of their owners, while helping to reduce loneliness, which raises the question of whether it is right to deprive tenants of these benefits because they rent rather than own their properties.

“With competition and demand for rental properties particularly high at the moment, action against unjustified no-pet clauses is urgently needed, and it is vital that the Welsh Government gives this issue the attention that it deserves while bringing improvements to the rental industry in Wales.”

RSPCA Cymru is joined in its support for the petition by Senedd member Carolyn Thomas MS.

The North Wales MS added: “Being a tenant in rented accommodation should not mean that you are excluded from being able to keep a pet. As a pet owner, I know how important pets are to families in Wales.

“Unfortunately the situation here in Wales is currently more restrictive for renters with pets than it is in England and this is not acceptable. I hope this petition will encourage the Welsh Government to ban the use of no-pet clauses in Wales.

Under the Housing (Wales) Act, all landlords in Wales must be registered. The RSPCA has prepared training materials on the benefits of pet ownership for landlords by facilitating happier and healthier tenants; that – positively – the Welsh Government distributed to private landlords and agents through Rent Smart Wales; but unfortunately too many people in Wales still do not allow pets.

Indeed, estimates suggest that only 7% of private landlords advertise pet-friendly properties in the UK; and the number could be even lower in Wales, given the existence of model rental contracts elsewhere in the UK. The RSPCA has produced model pet policies which can be adopted by private owners.