No-pet rental clauses to be outlawed UK

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Abandoned dog at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home

No-pet rental clauses are to be outlawed in new UK legislation. Note: this is a motion for leave to bring in a Bill (Standing Order No. 23). That means that an MP wants the House of Commons to debate this proposed bill which if enacted would outlaw no-pet rental agreements.

Background

Oftentimes in the UK, when a cat or dog owner (particularly dogs) who is obliged to rent an apartment under an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) the terms and conditions forbid the keeping of a pet. Both dog or cat and owner can suffer as a consequence.

Abandoned dog at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home

Abandoned dog at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. Photo: RICHARD POHLE/TIMES NEWSPAPERS LTD.

New law being introduced

Andrew Rosindell the Member of Parliament for Romford (Conservative) is introducing a bill which proposes to give rights to pets and their owners which allows them to live together in a rented home provided the owner can demonstrate that they are a responsible owner and can care for their animal to a good standard.

As I understand it, the law will restrict or proscribe the terms and conditions that can be written into a rental agreement which in the UK are normally called Assured Shorthold Tenancies (as at 2020). The AST is the standard rental agreement in the UK.

Example

Rosindell recounted a tragic case in which a homeless man, John Chadwick, ended his life after he was offered a home by the local council provided he gave up his pets. This is an extreme and extremely sad example. There are many other stories.

Battersea dogs and Cats Home

Battersea dogs & Cats Home inform us that the second biggest factor behind people giving up their dogs is rental agreements which ban the keeping of pets in apartments or houses under the rental agreement. They say that 200 dogs a year are handed in to their rescue centre for rehoming because of these landlord restrictions.

Family members

Pretty well all of us know by now that cats and dogs are family members. In many homes they are no different to a human family member in terms of the connection between animal and human. Sometimes the bond is even stronger, considerably stronger in fact between animal and human than human to human. This is particularly so for single and homeless people. To tear them apart because of unreasonable rental agreements is cruel and unfair.

International context

Britain is meant to be a country of animal lovers. Yet we have this unfairness in our rental agreements. Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and France have outlawed blanket restrictions on pets in rented accommodation. It is time for Britain to follow.

Veterinarians

Obviously such a law must protect the interests of landlords as well. They have a genuine concern because irresponsible cat and dog ownership can end up damaging their properties. It can also cause misery to neighbours and in apartments neighbours are close by. Therefore, the proposal is that the standard of ownership is to be assessed by veterinarians. The dog and cat must be micro-chipped and the pet owner will have to be subject to an ownership checklist which also includes questions about vaccination and basic training commands regarding dogs.

Naming the law

When and if it is enacted this law is to be called Jasmine’s law. The naming is after a Weimaraner dog who was owned by the Adams family in Surrey, UK. This dog lives with Maria but her son would like Jasmine to live with him at his apartment but his rental agreement disallows it. Adam is one of millions of people in the UK prevented from having their beloved pet stay with them.