A new campaign from Cats Protection is asking the landlords of the UK to consider allowing their tenants to have just a tiny bit of joy in their lives.
Called 'Purrfect Landlords' (of course), the charity campaign offers "free guidance to landlords and letting agents to help ensure that tenancy agreements reflect modern day living." In other words, it asks them to perhaps stop being so heartless as to deny the people who are literally paying their mortgage a small fluffy friend, and help the shelters be slightly less full-to-bursting at the same time.
Renters are already stuck in a miserable housing crisis where, in addition to knowing they may never be able to put a screw in a wall of their own, many have to share with potential murderers from Gumtree, people who keep their toilet rolls in their rooms, and people who, like, end every sentence with, like, a question?
Having a kitty to soothe the pain shouldn't just be encouraged, it should be law.
UK shelters are absolutely full to the rafters with cats (and dogs, and birds, and hamsters, and all sorts of other pets) but it's not because of a lack of people who want to own them. It's because so many of us rent now, and since no-one forces landlords to have a shred of decency about pets, they don't.
Yes, sometimes pets cause damage. Sometimes humans do, too. That's what the deposit is for. If you must, whack a bit extra on for your own peace of mind. But don't tell me there's any legal, ethical or human justification for denying people a companion animal, and denying those animals a home. Because there isn't. It's just one more way people who own the roofs over people's heads remind them of their place.
Jacqui Cuff, Cats Protection’s Head of Advocacy & Government Relations, says:
"More and more people are renting their homes either by choice or necessity, yet very few rented properties accept cats. This means tenants are missing out on being able to own a cat, while landlords may be losing out on attracting responsible and settled tenants.
We hear from renters who tell us most adverts state ‘no pets’. Often, the reason for not allowing cats is simply habit, with a third of landlords who don’t accept cats saying they didn’t proactively choose to ban cats, but instead followed a standard template or advice from a letting agent.
The aim of Cats Protection’s Purrfect Landlords campaign is to transform renting so that responsible cat ownership benefits both landlords and tenants - happy landlords, happy tenants, happy cats."
The charity, which helps around 200,000 cats a year in the UK, isn't asking landlords to implement a blanket "bring all your animals" policy. It's asking them to advertise properties as 'pets considered,' so that they can talk to potential tenants and find a solution that works for everyone.
The Purrfect Landlords website includes downloadable cat clauses that you can copy and paste into your tenancy agreement, including requirements like vaccinations, neutering and microchipping. "This helps to ensure that cats are in the best of health and unlikely to cause any issues," says Cuff.
The site also includes advice for tenants who want to ask their landlords permission for a furry friend, and points out that people who rent with pets are likely to stay for longer.
"The reality is that cats very rarely cause problems for landlords. In actual fact, many cat owners tell us that having a cat is what makes their house a home and helps them put down roots and value the home they’re living in," adds Cuff.
'No pets' rules are apparently one of the top 5 reasons people had to give up their cats this year, and the campaign includes some heartbreaking personal stories. Dilys Barnes of Norfolk and her partner Steve had to give up their beloved cat, Buster, earlier this year because their landlord sold their home from under them and none of the other rentals would accept animals.
"Every single advert we saw said ‘no pets’ and whenever we enquired, the answer was always no. We were devastated, and the whole thing was very traumatic. We loved him dearly, yet had to give him away, very much against our wishes.
It seems so unfair, as he was our pet and no bother at all. We really miss him. I love cats, but I now find it very hard to stroke one when I see one in the street – it’s almost as if I’m too scared to get attached or enjoy their company as I know I cannot have my own pet cat."
94% of tenants who have a cat say the moggy has a positive effect on their life and mental health. The other 6% have one of those be-fanged hellspawn that claw your ankles from under the sofa. D'aww.