Here is a question to the blog clinic from Amy who is a tenant:
I have recently moved into a rented property with a garden. We did not have any pets.
However, my father passed away suddenly a week ago and I have had to take his dog. I want to keep her for obvious reasons but my tenancy agreement states no pets. I don’t know what to do.
I have the dog in the property at the moment and haven’t told the landlord yet. She will be going to dog day care everyday so will only be here when I am here. I am happy to pay a larger security deposit/rent to keep her.
What are my rights?
There is no right for a tenant to keep a pet, if the tenancy agreement forbids it and at the moment you are in breach of your tenancy agreement.
You have a choice – either keep quiet about it and hope your landlord does not find out, or speak to your landlord and try to get his consent.
As a lawyer my advice has to be to speak to the landlord and get permission.
The main reasons landlords don’t want tenants to keep pets are that
- They can cause damage to the property
- Some people are allergic to them
- Noise, in particular dogs barking when left alone, and
- If anything happens to the pet owner, the landlord is legally responsible for the pet
So to persuade your landlord to allow you to keep the dog you need to make it clear that these issues will not be a problem. For example
- Offering to pay an additional deposit to cover any potential damage and also the cost of professional cleaning at the end of the tenancy
- Ensuring that the dog will not be left alone for long periods – which you have already dealt with
- Providing details of someone who will look after the dog if anything happens to you
If your landlord is still unwilling to allow you to keep the dog then these are the options:
- Arrange for the dog to live elsewhere
- Move to another property – which will be difficult if your landlord will not allow you to end your tenancy early
- Keep the dog anyway but move out at the end of the term
If you keep the dog in breach of the tenancy agreement, the main consequences are likely to be a greater claim on your deposit when you leave, and your landlord serving a section 21 notice on you requiring you to leave at the end of the term.
Technically it is possible for your landlord to bring proceedings to evict your before the end of the fixed term for breach of your tenancy agreement (ground 12).
However your landlord will be using a discretionary ground for possession, which is never easy, and you will have the sympathy of the court because of the circumstances under which you acquired the dog (its not as if you have deliberately flouted the terms of your tenancy by going out and buying a dog).
I think it is unlikely that your landlord would take this course of action, particularly if you have made it clear that he will not suffer financially if he lets you keep the dog.
What advice do readers have for Amy?