Charity calls for an end to pet lockout

Yorkshire Cat Rescue has called on private landlords to consider granting requests to keep pets in rented accommodation, as the number of abandoned cats rises.

The English Housing Survey 2016 found a rise in the number of people renting their homes from private providers. And nearly half of people in privately rented accommodation don’t expect to ever own their own home. Today, nearly a fifth of all rental homes are privately owned – leaving renters at the mercy of individual landlords.

no-pets-148666_960_720Yorkshire Cat Rescue takes around a dozen calls each day about unwanted, abandoned or stray cats; increasingly from people who have suddenly become unable to keep their cat in rented accommodation. According to the charity’s records, 15% of calls for help are now from people who are having to surrender a cat because their landlord doesn’t allow pets.

“Judging by the number of calls we are receiving about cats needing urgent help because their owner isn’t allowed to keep them in a rented property, more pets are being shown the red card by landlords,” says Sara Atkinson, founder of Yorkshire Cat Rescue.

Although tenancy agreements vary, most will include a pet clause. But, says Sara, exceptions can easily be made: “Landlords have the power to give written permission for a tenant to keep a cat regardless of what the contract says. By asking for a deposit specifically to cover damage caused by a pet, landlords can make sure they aren’t left out of pocket. To be certain that the property is left in a presentable state, landlords can stipulate that the cost of professionally cleaning the property at the end of the lease also has to be covered by the tenant, if they wish to keep a pet.”

According to an Australian news source, 20% of all surrendered animals in New South Wales and Victoria were caused by a change in living circumstances – prompting campaigners down under to call for a ban on ‘no pets’ clauses in tenancy agreements.

Sara says: “We do need a debate about automatic pet clauses, and whether they are fair and reasonable in a country where animals play such a significant role in the lives of millions of people.

“I completely appreciate that pets can leave marks on a property, but we also know that pet owners can be some of the most loyal tenants – motivated to remain in and look after the property long-term. I want to encourage landlords to take a case by case view of whether or not to allow a tenant to keep a cat with them.”

Yorkshire Cat Rescue estimates that between 130-150 of the cats it has rescued this year became homeless because pets were not allowed by landlords.