No Pets Allowed
Q: We are a block of 20 apartments. Our lease (we are freeholders) states quite clearly, when originated some 30 years ago, that NO pets are allowed. Over the years the committee, on compassionate grounds only, have allowed new owners/renters who already had a pet to keep them …but not to replace them. Is this practice legal now or enforceable? Has there been a change in attitudes?
FPRA Hon Consultant Nikki Carr replies:
A: It is not uncommon for older leases to have a blanket ban on pets. In modern times, however, there are a couple of things that it is worth having a think about.
Firstly, a blanket ban might be indirectly discriminatory against those who have assistance pets (blind dogs, hearing dogs etc). You should carefully consider whether your procedures permit of some latitude in this respect.
Such a clause might also be challengeable as an unfair contract term. It is, however, extremely rare for a tenant to challenge such a term, and of course the benefit of the term is that everyone knows where they stand. Such a term might be tempered by the simple addition of the words ‘without consent’. There is no difficulty in a term that provides for no pets save for with consent. Things get a bit more tricky if you add the words ‘not to be unreasonably withheld’, but even in such cases the court has upheld the landlord’s decision to operate the policy on a predominantly blanket basis – see the most recent case of Victory Place Management Co Ltd v Kuehn, in which the landlord operated such a term as an almost blanket policy (some discretion is required so as not to infringe reasonableness), and the High Court upheld the decision that was lawful. What the case suggests is that the landlord should be in a position to explain their approach to the decision making.
From the tenor of your email, it does not seem as if you are directly opposed to the concept of pets at the premises – and indeed have been operating individual discretions. This is something that, if you are willing, you might take a straw poll of your tenants as to their thoughts. It is not unusual for a group of tenants to object to pets on grounds of fouling, noise etc. Taking a measure of attitudes is one way that you can demonstrate 1. That you listen to your tenants and 2. That you are not being unreasonable, as it is their wishes you are implementing. If, however, you wish to carry on with the ban then obviously this is a slightly risky strategy.
[Submitted July 2018] NYMIZE_IP”};