Here is a question to the blog clinic from Lucy who is a tenant
I have a query regarding ‘reasonableness’ in relation to unfair terms. As I understand it, a clause in an AST which states that the tenant may not keep any pets whatsoever is considered to be unfair.
A tenant must ask permission from the landlord to keep a pet, and the landlord must not refuse permission unreasonably.
My question is what would count as ‘unreasonable’? Our landlady is refusing to allow us to get a cat under any circumstances, despite us offering her a bigger damage deposit as security. She has given no reason for her refusal.
You don’t say what the wording is for the clause in your tenancy agreement. This is crucial.
If the clause is not worded in a ‘fair’ way, then it will be unenforceable by the landlord who will not be entitled to stop you keeping a pet. The law will not imply into the clause a requirement that you have to ask permission which shall not be unreasonably refused.
So if the clause in your tenancy agreement is missing this wording, you will be entitled to keep your cat. It will be as if there is no prohibition clause at all.
If on the other hand the clause does include this wording, then the landlord will need to show that her reason for the refusal is unfair. So you could write to her pointing out the wording in the clause, and ask her to explain the reason for her refusal.
You could add that in the absence of any explanation you are entitled to assume that the reason is not a reasonable one and that therefore she has not complied with the clause and you are entitled to keep your cat.
A note of warning however. If your landlord objects to your keeping the cat and you keep one against her wishes, there is nothing to stop her serving a section 21 notice on you and requiring you to leave at the end of the notice period.