pet-permission

The Law of the Paw: Can I keep a pet without permission?

06/06/2024

Historically, many landlords have imposed no-pet clauses in assured shorthold tenancy agreements (“ASTs”). This blanket ban is still the standard position and landlords are currently entitled to refuse requests from tenants to keep pets in their property.

If a tenant then keeps a pet in breach of their AST, the landlord will have grounds to seek to evict them.

Procedure:

Landlords can serve a Section 8 Notice requiring tenants to remedy a specific breach of the AST or face the prospect of Court proceedings and potential eviction.

Where there has been a breach of one of the general terms of the AST, such a requirement not to keep pets, the landlord can serve a Section 8 Notice citing Ground 12 of Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1998.

If the tenant has made a statement that they will not be keeping a pet in the property, then the landlord could also potentially cite Ground 17 of Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1998, where the false statements are made with the intention of inducing the grant of the tenancy.

Both of these grounds are discretionary, meaning that if Court proceedings are issued, it is down to the discretion of the Court to decide whether or not to grant a possession order. Aggravating factors will be decisive such as: complaints by neighbours, damage being caused, or where keeping a pet in the property is in breach of the landlord’s own lease.

Reform:

The blanket ban against pets in ASTs are likely to be abolished under Renters Reform Bill (the ‘Reform’). In its place, tenants will now have a legal right to ask for permission to keep pets and the landlord will not be able to refuse the request unless it is reasonable to do so.

It is likely that landlords will adapt to these changes by making changes to the AST by:

  1. Ensuring that there is a clause in the AST requiring their tenant to take out pet damage insurance;
  2. Ensuring that there is a clause in the AST requiring the tenant to deep clean the property with a de-infestation cleaner before they vacate the property, and provide evidence to the landlord that this has been done;
  3. Establishing mechanisms within the AST for resolving disputes between landlords and tenants related to pet ownership, such as mediation or arbitration services; and
  4. Ensuring that there is a clause in the AST allowing the landlord to withhold the tenant’s deposit in part or in full should there be any damage to their property as a result of any pets occupying the property.

As a result, although keeping a pet may soon become the norm, so too will pet disputes.

How can Pinney Talfourd help?

For more information, please contact our Property Litigation department who would be happy to assist in reviewing your tenancy agreement and through any litigation that may arise in resolving pet ownership and property repossession.

The above is meant to be only advice and is correct as of the time of posting. This article was written by Zeliha Sari, Trainee Solicitor in the Property Litigation team at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of May 2024.

06/06/2024

Authors

Zeliha Sari

Zeliha Sari

Solicitor

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