A leading property law expert has claimed that the government ignored warnings that the tenant fees ban would push up rents as landlords sought alternative ways to protect themselves financially from pet-owning tenants.
Legal expert Tessa Shepperson told the BBC’s You and Yours programme that ARLA Propertymark lobbied the government to explain how the inflexible regulations within the Tenant Fees Act, which cap deposits at five week’s rent without exception, have created the growing phenomenon of ‘pet rent’.
The results are already becoming clear. As a national newspaper investigation discovered earlier this month, many landlords and letting agents are now adding pet rent and, therefore, also increasing the value of the deposit they can charge.
“[The government] was told that this would happen but they didn’t take any notice,” says Shepperson (left).
“The Tenant Fees Act is a very restrictive piece of legislation which has dramatically reduced landlords’ opportunity to charge fees and in particular the deposit that they can take.
“Pets can be very destructive and what landlords use to do was charge a higher deposit but this option has gone and many landlords feel five weeks’ rent is insufficient particularly if it’s a large animal such as an Alsatian.
“So now landlords are simply working out what extra deposit they would have charged and then dividing it by 12 and adding it to the monthly rent – it’s they only thing they can do.”
Shepperson says the legislation should have allowed landlords and letting agents to charge a higher deposit of say eight weeks for pet-owning tenants.
“I think the legislation needs amending but I can’t see the government doing that in the current circumstances.”