The UK General Election - 4th July 2024

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CASE STUDY

National Office of Animal Health (NOAH)

How PLMR helped launch and execute the ‘Securing the Right to Rent with Pets’ campaign

Client

National Office of Animal Health (NOAH)

Sector

The Situation

PLMR worked with the National Office of Animal Health (NOAH) to launch and execute the campaign, ‘Securing the Right to Rent with Pets: Making One Health Housing a Reality’.

The campaign was launched after feedback from NOAH members about the positive impact of companionship on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of both people and animals, and how renters in the UK are often excluded from keeping a pet due to restrictive tenancy agreements.

What we did

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.

The Result

In June 2022, DLUHC published its highly anticipated Private Rented Sector White Paper, setting out a series of proposals and reforms to improve the experience of individuals living in the private rented sector. This has been followed by the Renters (Reform) Bill, published in May 2023, which will legislate for reforms set out in the white paper. NOAH had been previously advised that a legislative route was simply not on the cards – but through continued engagement and pressure, NOAH has been able to secure a change in approach.

Crucially, Bill includes a section which will give tenants the right to request a pet in the rented property, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse and enables tenants to challenge unfair decisions. This directly reflects the views and proposals that NOAH and other partners working on this campaign had put forward to government.

Notably, the Bill will also allow landlords to require insurance covering pet damage. This will provide them with reassurance that their properties are properly protected against any potential pet damage caused during a tenancy and will ensure that the responsibility for preventing damage will fall to the tenant. Just a few months prior to the White Paper’s publication.

The Bill represents an important moment for renters and marks a key step to secure the right for responsible pet owners to rent with pets in the UK once and for all – delivering a revolutionary reform to the rental sector.

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PLMR’s crisis communications experience is second to none, and includes pre-emptive and reactive work across traditional and social media channels. We work with a range of organisations to offer critical communication support when they are faced with difficult and challenging scenarios.

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