Real Estate

Dog’s breakfast? Why leasehold rules mean thousands of tenants cannot ever have pets

Pet-loving apartment block tenants are beginning to rail against leasehold rules banning pets in blocks of flats, with at least one case potentially heading for the courts.

LandlordZONE has heard of a pending legal action concerning a leaseholder who bought a pet after moving into a London block; her lease outlined how the management company would usually approve requests, but because she did not officially get permission, the case is now going through mediation. If a solution cannot be found, the leaseholder faces losing her home.

Most leasehold flats, especially those in large blocks, specifically ban pets in the lease and so far, legal battles to overcome this have failed, as have other initiatives and legal attempts to challenge landlords who refuse pets.

David Smith, property solicitor at JMW, says landlords would find it hard to turn down a pet on disability grounds, but that they retain the right to say no for any other reason.

“One recent legal challenge from a tenant who wanted to live with his dog because he said it would benefit his mental health, was thrown out by the court,” Smith tells LandlordZONE.

Communal harmony

glenn arma pets

Nigel Glen, CEO of the Association of Residential Managing Agents (pictured), suspects the majority of leases forbid pets but says the standard clause aims to try to protect communal harmony.

He tells LandlordZONE: “I don’t believe this is meant to be a killjoy or a way to charge fees for licences – instead I suspect it is a feature of communal living.

“I’m a zoologist by training so animals fascinate me. But not everyone likes pets and people with allergies, phobias or simply easily disturbed have to be taken into consideration.” 

The latest attempt to solve the conundrum of keeping pets is Petscore, a scoring-based platform that lets pet owners build up a profile for their pet to show landlords and letting agents.

It follows Andrew Rosindell’s scuppered private members’ bill to give tenants the right to live with their pets if they proved they were ‘responsible and caring’, while animal charity AdvoCATS is pushing for the Tenant Fees Act to be amended to allow landlords to either take additional deposits off tenants seeking to rent with pets or require tenants to take out extra insurance.

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