Q. I read in the news that the government is updating the model tenancy agreement to make it easier for tenants to keep a pet. What is the model tenancy agreement and does this mean we can no longer forbid pets in our properties?
A. The model tenancy agreement is a draft form of tenancy agreement that the government makes available on the government website at www.gov.uk/government/publications/model-agreement-for-a-shorthold-assured-tenancy.
It is purely there as an example document and there is no requirement to use it. Most landlords are probably unaware that it exists.
The update referred to by the Minister had not, at the time of writing, been carried out and the document is showing as having last been updated in February 2016. The model tenancy agreement therefore does not take into account the new rules under the Tenant Fees Act 2019, so it should be used (if you decide to use it) with caution.
You can certainly forbid pets in your property. However, note that your tenancy agreement clause must be compliant with the unfair terms rules (now part of the Consumer Rights Act 2015) and should include wording providing for the tenant to request the right to keep a pet and saying that the request will not be unreasonably refused or delayed. If this wording is not included the clause is likely to be found ‘unfair’ if challenged by the tenant.
Q. My tenant has asked me for permission to keep a pet and I have agreed that he may keep one small Yorkshire terrier dog. What is the best way to amend my tenancy agreement to permit this?