New freeholder dilemma - pets or not pets

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    New freeholder dilemma - pets or not pets

    Hello,

    I have recently acquired the freehold to two maisonettes, both with gardens. The top maisonette is mine (I was previously a leaseholder) and is let out, the bottom one-bedroom maisonette contains owner-occupiers who are trying to sell up (they didn't take up the offer to buy their share of the freehold). They have received an offer from a prospective buyer who owns a small dog, and I am not sure whether, as landlord, I should give permission to a prospective buyer to keep a pet. I have the power to do this because in the lease for the downstairs maisonette there is a clause which states 'not to allow to be kept any birds cats dogs or other animals in the maisonette or garden without the consent in writing of the landlord [me] who shall be entitled in his absolute discretion to revoke such consent at any time'. The maisonette has its own front door to the street and a small garden which is overlooked on one side by two further maisonettes (not mine), so if the dog was noisy or made a mess of the place it would be noticed. I understand the dog might be absolutely fine, and it is good of the prospective buyer to mention it this early in proceedings, but if problems did arise I would guess it would be very difficult to 'revoke' my consent or similar because I would be dealing with the owner of the property (rather than a tenant on an AST) and a vital companion in their life.

    Has anyone had experience of dealing with the issue of allowing or not allowing pets **as a freeholder** which could help me make a more informed decision about whether to say yes or no?

    Very grateful for any advice!

    #2
    The clause does not ban animals, it implies that consent will normally be given, unless you have good reason and allows you to revoke consent, again if you have good reason.

    I would ask what kind of dog to ensure that it is not a dangerous breed. Subject to the response, I would then allow permission subject to the dog being well behaved and not fouling the communal areas. I would investigate any complaint and allow the owner to respond and deal with the complaint. Only in exceptional circumstances would I give the owner a final warning that consent may be revoked.

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      #3
      The key bit there is 'who shall be entitled in his absolute discretion to revoke such consent at any time' - so I don't agree that (legally speaking at least) it would be 'very difficult to 'revoke' my consent or similar because I would be dealing with the owner of the property (rather than a tenant on an AST) and a vital companion in their life'.

      However, socially speaking, you're right, it may very well be challenging. So best thing to do would be to say yes, but at the same time, be clear about the situations in which that consent would potentially be revoked - i.e. if the dog causes annoyance to other residents or neighbours, if it's noisy or if it poops everywhere and they don't clean it up, etc. That way you've set an accurate expectation but you've not blanket denied a buyer's right to their companion. In short, reasonable behaviour!

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        #4
        I don't think it implies consent will be given. I think it suggests no more than a 50:50 chance. The absolute discretion to revoke means that there is no requirement for reasonableness in any subsequent removal of the consent, which could happen arbitrarily soon after initial permission.

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          #5
          I disagree, if pets were not to be allowed, the lease would say so. I think that you would have some difficulty if the leaseholder lost a sale as a result of your refusal to allow a well behaved dog to be kept. You have the right to establish the rules eg which breeds are not allowed and as Benzo says what constitutes reasonable behaviour. If a dog misbehaves, it is usually the owner who needs to be retrained.

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            #6
            Many thanks to eagle2, Benzo and leaseholder64 for your answers. I spoke to the prospective buyer today and was able to use your advice to better clarify my position and expectations. She was also very happy that I had agreed to speak with her. I have decided to give my consent subject to the dogs being well behaved - which she assures me they are!

            Comment


              #7
              Well done, I think that is the correct and reasonable decision to make. I disagree with the view that you may arbitrarily revoke your decision soon after granting permission. The RSPCA may have something to say if you do.

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