The financial impact of pet ownership in rental properties

In the UK, the Private Rented Sector (PRS) has nearly doubled in size over the last twenty years, with 4.6 million households – approximately one in five households – now renting from a private landlord. Renters are staying longer in the PRS due to difficulties in accessing other tenures. Previous research underscores the challenges renters experience, including financial pressures, insecurity and precarity, and disrepair. Due to limited housing options and insecurity, renters face barriers to making their property a ‘home’. One core aspect of being able to make a rented property a ‘home’, is for the renters to have the freedom and ability to have a pet. Unfortunately, renters face barriers in realising the benefits of having a pet, with Zoopla5 reporting that only 7% of rental properties were advertised as being ‘pet-friendly’. Battersea Dogs & Cats Home reports that around three in four renters are affected by landlord pet policies. 

The issue of pet-friendly renting has become increasingly significant in both academic and policy debates. This is due to the increasing recognition of the importance of pets for individual health and well-being, their role in creating a sense of home and fostering community engagement, and their status as valued family members. Across the UK, there is increasing demand for policy change. There have been developments, including the changes to the voluntary Model Tenancy Agreement in England and the new Renters Reform Bill – which proposes that landlords will be unable to refuse pets unreasonably and can require pet damage insurance to be taken out. In Scotland, there is a proposal to give tenants the right to have a pet as part of the New Deal for Tenants and draft Rented Sector Strategy consultation. 

However, concerns have been raised that approaches could have unintended consequences for private landlords. To support the policy process, test underlying suppositions about the cost of renting to pet owners and advance our knowledge of the issues, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home commissioned us to undertake this vital study to develop a better understanding of the experiences of pet-friendly rentals and to undertake an innovative cost-benefit analysis of landlords renting to pet owners. 

Project publications