Many leases and tenancies contain provisions that restrict activity at, or use of, the property.
Typically, use clauses may restrict what is permitted, such as using the property for a domestic or private dwelling only and not for any trade or business, or immoral, or illegal purposes.
There are often restrictions such as not creating any nuisance or annoyance to the landlord, and any owners and occupiers of any neighbouring properties.
Such restrictions would typically include provisions prohibiting leaseholders and tenants from causing noise or disturbances which might include antisocial behaviour, or playing instruments, or music devices, so that the same are audible to others on the outside of the property, particularly during night/ unsociable hours.
When keeping pets, renters may face similar restrictions.
In fact, many pet owners across the UK struggle to find accommodation that will accept their pet in the private rented sector. For renters, pet ownership may be banned completely due to provisions in an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement, for example. For leaseholders, pets may also be banned by general nuisance clauses in long leases. There may also be restrictions on what types of pets may be kept and the consent of the property owner may be required before a pet can be kept at a property.
Prospective renters and leaseholders must also understand how a ‘pet’ is defined. Factors such as size and breed may influence an owner’s decision whether a domestic animal may be kept or not. Where there is a medical justification for a pet, such as guide dogs or emotional support animals, individuals may be given special allowance by property owners for these animals to be kept at the property.
When buying a leasehold property or renting a property, it is important to carefully check the terms and provisions of the lease or the tenancy agreement to determine whether a pet can be kept or not. Particularly, in case of animal lovers, this is likely to affect their enjoyment of the property.
When a property is to be used as an investment, a full ban on keeping pets is likely to limit the number of prospective tenants (particularly if they are dog or cat owners).
It is worth pointing out that there may be legal recourse where pets are banned, such as through the Consumer Rights Act 2015 if the terms are considered ‘unfair’. However, this only applies to rental properties (rather than long leaseholds) and may be a costly and time consuming route to pursue.
Also, the controversial Renters (Reform) Bill, introduced to Parliament on 17 May 2023, contains measures to amend the Housing Act 1988 to make it an implied term of an assured tenancy (with some exceptions) that a tenant may keep a pet with the landlord’s consent unless the landlord reasonably refuses. This is expected to become law imminently this year.
Furthermore, landlords in England cannot request a higher tenancy deposit as a security for renting with a pet. As deposits are capped in England since the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act in 2019, landlords might instead elect to charge an extra rent for having a pet.
‘No pets allowed’ is often not set in stone and an open discussion with the landlord or the letting agent would often prove to be the best course of action.
For more information please see: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/renting-with-pets-renters-reform-bill
If you need any further information or legal advice, including conveyancing of a property in England, please contact our designated UKRE team Anna Douglass, Alastair Hargreaves, Caren Vidamour, Naledi Odiseng and Fiona Jeffries, who will be delighted to assist.