By Michelle Robertson 01/03/2021
Last year I became aware of a gentleman called John Chadwick through his dear friend Dee Bonett.
John, originally from Salford & living in Kent had experienced homelessness & like so many, John's mental health had suffered.
John had two little dogs Theo & Tinkerbell & a Cat called Gizmo. They were his companions, his family & his whole world.
John had to leave his privately rented accommodation & on 6th March 2016 he was separated from his little family as the only property he was offered had a no pets caveat.
If John had turned this property down he would have been considered as making himself intentionally homeless.
I can only imagine the misery John was faced with after being separated from Theo, Tinkerbell & Gizmo. Nobody should have to choose between a roof over their head or their family.
Ten days after saying his forced goodbyes to his dogs & cat John was found to have taken his life.
When I heard about what happened to John I broke down & sobbed. I felt shame for the human race. I wondered what had gone wrong with us to have created a situation that led to a man feeling so devastated & unable to carry on that he took his own life. The situation should never has arisen.
Dee Bonnet has been campaigning to encourage change in John's memory & has been able to persuade Maidstone Council to pilot a scheme which will allow people like John a greater chance to remain with their pets.
Dee continues to work for positive change nationwide. Everything that has been achieved & all that will be achieved will be in John Chadwick's most precious & loving memory.
I will be talking to Dee as the anniversary of John's death approaches. She will be sharing John's story with us, the changes that have been made in Maidstone & her hopes for the future.
Tenant Fees Act Creating "Needless Barrier" To Pet Ownership In Rented Accommodation Say Campaigners.
Campaigners have today called on the Government to amend the Tenant Fees Act (2019), to make it easier for pet owners and landlords to avoid the "devastating impact of no pets clauses."
New research published today by the charity AdvoCATS recommends that pet insurance is added to the list of permitted payments in the Tenant Fees Act, to allow landlords to require pet insurance as a condition for bringing a pet into rented accommodation.
The report, titled "Heads for Tails", finds that "insurance options that include pet damage for both landlords and tenants are few and far between." This is a consequence, according to the report, of restrictions placed on landlords by the Tenant Fees Act, effectively banning landlords from requiring such cover. Director of the insurance firm Alan Boswell Group, Heath Alexander-Bew, called pet damage insurance "the obvious solution."
The report finds that the Tenant Fees Act could be amended by secondary legislation, requiring a simple up/down vote by Parliament.
Responding to the report, Chairman of the Society for Companion Animal Studies, Dr Elizabeth Ormerod, blamed the Tenant Fees Act for many no pets policies implemented by landlords.
The calls come after polling emerged showing a majority of pet-owners (53%) would be willing to take out such a policy at a reasonable price, if it was a condition for a tenancy agreement.
A majority of pet-owners (53%) would be willing to pay for such cover, if required, according to polling conducted by YouGov and commissioned by the Society for Companion Animal Studies. When asked to imagine moving into a rental property with their pet, and being required to have a "specialised pet ownership insurance" as a condition of being able to rent the property, 53% of respondents, including 57% of dog owners and 55% of cat owners, said they would be willing to do so, if priced reasonably.
AdvoCATSeastmids co-founder, Jen Berezai said:
"A business problem requires a business solution: if the problem is the possibility of pet damage, then pet damage insurance answers that problem.
Amending the list of permitted payments under the Tenant Fees Act 2019 would be a simple but highly effective way of increasing the availability of pet-friendly rented accommodation. At present, a needless barrier has been created to pet-ownership in rented accommodation.
AdvoCATS will continue to work with Andrew's campaign for legislative change."
Chairman of the Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS), Dr Elizabeth Ormerod said:
"The Tenant Fees Act, by removing the option for landlords to require a pet deposit or have pet damage insurance, resulted in many landlords introducing no pets policies. The consequences are tragic and far-reaching for tenants and their companion animals.
Pet owners find it difficult or impossible to find suitable accommodation; many are forced to choose between having a roof over their heads or keeping the pet that is part of their family. Thousands of animals are being relinquished to shelters. Some people choose to be street homeless with their pets. John Chadwick was lost to suicide. Parliament needs to address this urgently."
Andrew Rosindell M.P. said:
"The Tenant Fees Act of 2019 has clearly been harmful to the cause of greater pet ownership for renters, an issue which has come to a head given the loneliness and self-isolation many have suffered during this pandemic, something which a dog or a cat could really ameliorate.
Amending it to allow for landlords to require insurance as part of the permitted payments, as this report calls for, might only be a start, but it would be a positive start, and I hope the government explores this as an option.
Longer term the Government must look at proposals such as those made in Jasmine's Law to fully embed the right to bring a pet into rented accommodation into legislation."
Director of Alan Boswell Group, Heath Alexander-Bew said:
“It’s good to see Government making positive changes to standard tenancy agreements making consent for pets the default position. We now need to see the Tenant Fees Act amended to allow payments for pet insurance.
Landlords and tenants will need that safety net, so pet damage insurance is the obvious solution to give everyone some peace of mind.”