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Landlord Legal Issues August 2017

Landlord & tenant lawyer, Tessa Shepperson of www.landlordlaw.co.uk answers your questions

Q. My tenancy agreement prohibits  pets but when I did my last inspection I found that my tenants were keeping a King Charles Spaniel. I told them that they were in breach of their tenancy agreement and that they must get rid of the dog but they said that their lawyer had told them that my clause was invalid as it did not give them a right to request permission to keep a pet. Is this right?

A. I am afraid so. Tenancy agreements are consumer agreements and therefore subject to the unfair terms rules set out in the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The effect of this is that if a landlord is seeking to prevent someone from doing something in the property that they would normally be able to do (such as keep a pet) the clause must provide for the tenant to request permission and
say that such permission will not be refused unreasonably.

We know for sure that this applies to pets’ clauses as there was a case (admittedly in Spain but it is a relevant authority as this law comes from the EU) where the Judge said an outright prohibition would be unfair as it would prevent tenants keeping something innocuous such as a goldfish in a bowl.

Most professionally drafted tenancy agreements include this wording. It is important that landlords leave it and do not delete it. Otherwise the clause will be legally unenforceable.

Q. I allow my tenant to keep a dog in his rented house. However, I was rung up by one of the neighbours today who told me that my tenant had been rushed into hospital for emergency surgery and that the dog is alone in
the house.  

Who is responsible for looking after the dog in these circumstances?

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