New Battersea report makes strong case for pet-friendly properties

November 27th, 2018

Last night it was a pleasure to speak at the launch of Battersea’s new report into pet friendly properties at City Hall. A short summary of my speech is below:

I really welcome Battersea’s new report on pet friendly properties. This is an issue that I feel personally very strongly about: I’m a private tenant and I’m not allowed pets.

10% of people giving up their dogs do so because landlords don’t allow pets. I grew up with cats. They’re always part of the family. I can’t imagine how distressing an heartbreaking it must be to have to give up your pets because you move home and your new landlord won’t allow you to keep them.

This is a particular issue for London. Half of Londoners rent either from the council, housing association or private landlord. This is forecast to rise to 60% by 2025.

Pets bring great joy and have an extremely positive effect on mental health. One of the most striking statistics in this report is that pet ownership saves the NHS £2.5bn a year.

At a time when NHS budgets, particularly funding for mental health, is very tight, there is clearly a financial case to ensure people who wish to own a pet can do so. Though this is no substitute for properly funding our NHS.

I think the emphasis on responsible pet ownership in the report is welcome, and should reassure landlords. I’m pleased that Battersea is offering its services via the Pet Ready Training Programme.

As a Lewisham councillor I’m delighted that our local community housing association, Phoenix, is held up in the report as an example of good practice, allowing their residents to keep a dog or cat so long as they do not cause a nuisance. They’ve also partnered with Battersea to offer free microchipping and advice on responsible pet ownership. This is a common-sense approach which I hope other landlords will emulate.

I’m also really pleased that the Labour party nationally has a policy of giving tenants a default right to pets. This would bring the UK into line with countries like Belgium and Italy, which allow tenants the right to keep small pets.