At the outset of the campaign, PLMR designed a bespoke microsite and drafted detailed key messaging on the challenges within the rental market for responsible pet owners, the benefits of pet ownership on human and pet health and wellbeing, as well as considering the negative impacts of restrictive tenancies.
The aims of the microsite were twofold: first, to raise awareness of the issues facing pet owners who rent in the UK. and secondly, to act as a key campaign tool, directing visitors to a number of proactive ways of engaging politically, including writing to their local MP, urging MPs to table parliamentary questions and encouraging website users to share their own stories and experiences of renting with pets using the contact function or on social media using the hashtag #RentingWithPets.
In addition, PLMR engaged with other key organisations and policymakers to build a powerful coalition of support, culminating in a virtual roundtable event in partnership with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cats. In addition to enlisting speakers from Generation Rent, the National Residential Landlords Association, Battersea Cats & Dogs, Blue Cross, Dogs Trust, Cats Protection and A-Law, we also secured attendance of a number of MPs from all major parties.
Throughout the campaign, we continued to raise awareness of the issues at hand and NOAH’s work to identify a solution by utilising traditional PR and social media. We secured coverage in multiple pet trade publications, including Pet Gazette, Over the Counter News, Pet Business World, Vet Click, Jackson Property, Landlord Today, Veterinary Practice, Landlords South West and Northern Ireland Veterinary Today.
PLMR also facilitated regular engagement with key government figures and wider parliamentary stakeholders in order to continue raising awareness of the issue and to better understand the views of policymakers on potential solutions that would allow responsible pet owners to rent with pets. Through this engagement, we concluded that the government was indeed aware of the challenges facing pet owners in rented accommodation, and many were receptive to finding a solution that worked for landlords and tenants. However, it was also clear that the former Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (now DLUHC) did not feel there was enough data to legislate on the issue, and therefore NOAH started work on collecting data to strengthen the ask to government.
We worked with NOAH to design two online surveys aimed at landlords and tenants, respectively, with each survey running for three months. The surveys collected qualitative and quantitative data to demonstrate first-hand the views and experiences of both groups. We received more than 200 responses in total, with many respondents sharing in-depth detail from their own experiences of renting with a pet or renting to a tenant with a pet.
The responses re-affirmed NOAH’s position – concluding that if landlords were better protected through legislation against pet damage, then more landlords would consider allowing tenants to keep pets in their rental properties. The survey data also indicated that the Tenant Fees Act 2019 (TFA) had led to a significant decline in properties advertised as pet-friendly, whilst also creating a culture of informal increased rents and deposits. Ultimately, it became clear that the TFA was not fit-for-purpose for renters with pets or landlords.