Posted on 7th April 2018

Are You a Responsible Pet Owner?

Martin Williamson, Director and Head of Residential Property
Martin Williamson, Director and Head of Residential Property

As a first time buyer one of the benefits to owning a property is the freedom to have pets. According to the Dog’s Trust, almost half of UK residents own a pet. However, for animal-lovers one real disadvantage of renting or buying a flat in the UK is the common restriction on keeping pets.

The restriction may prevent tenants from keeping pets entirely, or may allow tenants to keep pets with the landlord’s prior written consent. Even where tenants are allowed to keep pets with the landlord’s consent, the landlord will have the right to revoke its consent at any time.

Keeping animals in rented properties may have a wider relevance to covenants and regulations that do not expressly set out how the landlord or the management company is to determine consent applications. 

Never hide the existence of pets, it is likely other tenants in the building or the landlord or management company will find out eventually. Breaching the covenant not to keep pets means the landlord could be entitled to re-enter the flat and terminate the lease, apply for an injunction to remove the pet or claim damages.

Discuss keeping pets with the agent early on, ask about any pet policies and ensure this is communicated to and agreed with the landlord and any management company at the outset. Worst case scenario, walk away from that property early without becoming too committed. If a landlord won’t accept a pet then find one that will.

Negotiation and creative drafting between the landlord and tenant can often get round pet restrictions effectively. For example parties will agree to water down a restrictive covenant on keeping pets so that the landlord’s consent must not be unreasonably withheld or delayed. If pet issues are not dealt with before exchange or completion, it may be the case that money has exchanged hands before it becomes clear that pets are not allowed.

Being a responsible pet owner is paramount, the landlord’s or management company’s right to revoke consent is sometimes limited (check the tenancy documents to find out). Typically clauses will say something like ‘if the landlord or management company receives a bona fide complaint of nuisance or annoyance caused by the pet to any other owner or occupier of a neighbouring property’. For example, if a dog owner acts responsibly, the landlord is unlikely to have cause to revoke its consent.

Attitudes towards keeping pets could be changing and there are some landlords and management companies out there that are more accommodating to pets.

Make sure pet issues are dealt with early on, don’t assume that consent will be given to keep a pet and if there is consent, be a responsible pet owner to avoid consent being revoked. There is hope, pet-friendly properties are out there and more may be in the pipeline.

Please note: This article is intended as guidance only. No responsibility for loss occasioned/costs arising as a result of any act/failure to act on the basis of this article can be accepted by Latimer Hinks. In addition, no responsibility for loss occasioned/costs arising as a result of any act/failure to act on the basis of this article can be accepted by the firm.