by Andrew Rosindell M.P.
Our pets have been worth their weight in gold during lockdown. In an age of isolation, our beloved feline and canine companions have been a vital source of companionship when most human interaction has been suspended.
This is particularly true for people living alone, for whom loneliness has been a constant problem this past year. Without the companionship of their pet, there would be no escape from that awful feeling of being alone.
Indeed, people living with only their pet are in some ways the lucky ones. For Generation Rent, pet ownership is often an impossibility. People living alone are far more likely to rent than own their home, when compared to couples without children. And with more than half of landlords banning pets from rented accommodation, it’s too difficult for renters to find pet-friendly housing.
So I have tabled a Bill in the House of Commons to address this problem. Jasmine’s Law would enshrine into legislation the right to bring a pet into rented and leasehold accommodation.
There would be conditions, of course. My legislation would require the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to develop certificates of “responsible animal guardianship” for prospective tenants with pets and “certificates of exemption” for landlords.
To receive a certificate of responsible animal guardianship, the owner of a dog would have to demonstrate that the animal is microchipped, vaccinated, and able to respond to basic training commands. In the case of cats, the requirements would be less stringent. If a pet owner can demonstrate they are responsible under the provisions of my legislation, the right to bring their pet into their rented accommodation or leasehold would be assumed.
Jasmine’s Law would also provide for one further condition: that the landlord does not automatically hold a certificate of exemption. Such a certificate could be obtained by a landlord if the landlord or another tenant has a religious or medical reason for objecting to a pet, or because the accommodation is unsuitable for a dog or domestic animal.
These are reasonable provisions that could shift the balance of decision-making power slightly more toward tenants, while still ensuring there are strong measures in place to protect landlords where necessary.
My proposals, I’m glad to say, are having an impact. A few weeks ago, while I was live on the Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 discussing my campaign, the Government announced changes to the Model Tenancy Agreement, which banned blanket “no pets” clauses from the model. This is a positive change, one which clearly incorporated some of the ideas that the Jasmine’s Law campaign has brought into the spotlight.
It did not go far enough, however. The Model Tenancy Agreement is a guide. It is by no means binding.
So while the Government deserves praise for this move, we need to push it to go further. We need Jasmine’s Law to be passed into legislation. And what better time than now, when the Government is clearly in listening mode?
My Bill passed its First Reading in October 2020, but, because Friday sittings of the House of Commons are currently suspended, its Second Reading has been delayed. Instead, on February 26, I will be hosting an event with the Public Policy Exchange to discuss these vital issues. It will act as a de facto Second Reading, with some of the finest minds in animal welfare debating the pros and cons of the legislation in one panel, and discussing what lockdown and the pandemic have taught us about pets in the other.
I would urge anyone interested to join us for a fascinating morning. It is free for all, and all are welcome. Sign up here: February 26 Event