Landlords urged to be vigilant of a perfect storm of student pet rental problems


The UK’s leading student accommodation platform, UniHomes, has called on letting agents and landlords within the student rental sector to act with greater vigilance, as changes to the model tenancy agreement could lead to an increase in the number of students opting to have a pet while at university.

Lockdown has caused a spike in pet ownership as many look to fill the boredom of days spent inside, as well as finding a new reason to venture out for some fresh air. Research by the PFMA has found that so far 2.1m people have added a pet to their family while in lockdown, with a further 1.8m planning to join them soon. 

However, the downside to this surge in knee-jerk pet ownership has inevitably been an increase in pets being abandoned, with the RSPCA revealing that 4,600 animals were dumped on them last winter alone; including horses, rabbits, cats and dogs to name but a few.

UniHomes fears that this is a trend that could soon start to sweep the student rental sector due to recent changes to the model tenancy agreement now allowing well-behaved pets in rental properties.

Research by UniHomes found that just 6% of all student accommodation currently listed on the market is pet friendly.

However, UniHomes also found that while just 10% of students currently choose to have their pet live with them, 48% would have a pet at uni if ‘pet friendly’ accommodation was more widely available.

Under the new laws now in place, a blanket ban on pets within the rental sector is no longer allowed. Instead, landlords must object in writing within 28 days of a pet request from a tenant.

Rejections should only be made for a good reason such as the property being unpractical for the pet in question. Tenants will also remain legally responsible for any damages and the cost incurred.

With no distinction made between regular and student rental properties, an easing of pet rental restrictions coupled with ongoing lockdown restrictions could cause an uplift in pet ownership amongst students. The unfortunate consequence of which could be an increase in pets being abandoned come the end of term time.

Co-Founder of UniHomes, Phil Greaves commented: 

“Recent amendments to the model tenancy agreement mean that more landlords could be about to open up their homes to well-behaved pet roommates for students studying at university.

However, we would urge both landlords and letting agents to be vigilant when it comes to student pet rental requests and consider the welfare of the animal as much as the potential impact on their property.

We’ve seen numerous cases where students have left pets for the landlord or agent to deal with once they’ve finished their studies and we wouldn’t advise it for students who are keen to live the party lifestyle.”

Survey of 1,068 UK students carried out by Find Out Now (11th February 2021).

Do you have a pet in your student accommodation?
Answer Respondents
No 90%
Yes 10%
Would you have brought a pet to university if pet-friendly student accommodation was more widely available?
Answer Respondents
No 52%
Yes 48%
Location Pet-friendly rentals as a % of all student-specific rental stock
Newport 20%
London 15%
Aberdeen 12%
Edinburgh 11%
Glasgow 11%
Cambridge 6%
Plymouth 3%
Liverpool 3%
Manchester 3%
Sunderland 3%
Southampton 2%
Bradford 2%
Birmingham 2%
Portsmouth 2%
Bournemouth 2%
Oxford 2%
Bristol 1%
Swansea 1%
Nottingham 1%
Sheffield 1%
Leeds 1%
Newcastle 0%
Leicester 0%
Cardiff 0%
Belfast 0%
All 6%
Pet-friendly stock based on the proportion of all student-specific rental stock that allows pets.
Data sourced from Zoopla.

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