Keeping a Cat at the Property

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    Keeping a Cat at the Property

    My 5 housemates and I have been renting our property for over a year and are now into our final 7 months of the tenancy at which point we will be moving out. Around halfway through the first year I took on an indoor cat. She is regularly professionally groomed elsewhere, is never allowed outside under any circumstances and is de-flead. She presents no noise or nuisance and has not damaged the property so far. Having kept her for almost a year or so now, there have been multiple visitors from the landlord/estate agent contractors for various issues and she has undoubtedly been spotted before. A couple of weeks though we received an email threatening legal action over a cat and how they had photos of the cat etc that they entered the property and took.
    I consulted the contract clause is attached below. I was of the understanding that there should be a clause stating that permission can be sought and won’t be unreasonably held. Is this true and if so under what law?
    I also replied to their email saying I have a cat and look after her which will not change and I would happily vacate. I just got a reply around me having to find someone to replace myself in the tenancy and pay fees etc.
    The landlord/agent has since come round to do a viewing for the new tenants who have signed for the property in 7 months time without any notice and therefore they saw the cat again. My worry is that they will now take up legal action?

    Could anyone give any advice on this (aside from giving up the cat)

    Thanks


    #2

    Comment


      #3
      Informed opinion is that an absolute ban on keeping animals is an unfair term. However, as far as I know no court or tribunal has ruled on the question. It is possible that it would not regarded as unfair if the ban is drawn to a proposed tenant's attention at an early stage. Keeping a pet is not an unusual activity. If the prohibition is qualified by words such as "Not without the landlord's consent which shall not be unreasonably withheld" the landlord can assess the request and refuse consent if it is reasonable to do so.

      A tenant whose tenancy agreement has a qualified ban will though be in breach if he keeps a pet without consent even if the landlord could not have reasonably withheld consent . A tenant who ignores an absolute ban can argue that the ban is unfair and if the court agrees he will not be in breach.

      If a tenant is in breach it has to be unlikely that the court will grant possession unless the animal has been causing havoc. That leaves damages. If the animal has not caused any damage they are going to be nominal or at most a sum to cover cleaning when the tenancy ends. You also have to ask if a landlord will seriously contemplate proceedings for possession or damages when the tenant is keeping a well-beahved cat that stays indoors.

      Comment


        #4
        Realistically, what loss is a landlord suffering from the breach of contract while the tenant is still there, and what remedy is open to the landlord?

        If there's a single contract of 6 joint tenants, then the landlord cannot evict the one tenant without evicting everyone, which would unlikely to be judged reasonable under a discretionary ground. If individual contracts, then the response requiring the tenant to find someone to replace them in the tenancy doesn't make any sense. It is open for the landlord to apply to a court for possession, but if the tenant has already offered a surrender and it's the landlord that's saying no or giving conditions to accept, again I don't think a court will then find any possession action reasonable.

        If the tenant return the property, then they would generally speaking be paying for any physical damages beyond reasonable wear and tear. That sum would be for the damages, not because a cat was in the property. If the tenant is in possession, you can't judge if there's going to be damages yet when the property is eventually returned.

        One clear exception would be for example a landlord who's a leaseholder seeking possession to prevent forfeiture in turn by a superior landlord who disallow pets. But again, if that were the case, the you have to find someone to replace you communication wouldn't make any sense.
        I am not a lawyer, nor am I licensed to provide any regulated advice. None of my posts should be treated as legal or financial advice.

        I do not answer questions through private messages which should be posted publicly on the forum.

        Comment


          #5
          LL can impose any conditions he wants for his prior agreement to keep a pet.
          I would claim Breach of Contract for any dog/cat without my express permission, esp one that supposedly never leaves the house.
          Expect in depth inspection for 'T damage' at end of T.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by mariner View Post
            LL can impose any conditions he wants for his prior agreement to keep a pet.
            If an absolute prohibition is enforceable, then yes. If qualified and not to be unreasonably withheld, imposing an unreasonable condition is unreasonably withholding consent.

            Comment


              #7
              If a prohibition is held enforceable, then it is absolute, but (animal charity) advice is that a LL can reasonably specify type, number & breed of pet & require a pet bond or require T to undertake a pet 'deep clean' at end of T, without 'unreasonably withholding permission'.
              T keeping a pet is a LL concession, not a Right.
              Ts are still liable for pet (T) damage.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by j432j View Post
                A couple of weeks though we received an email threatening legal action over a cat and how they had photos of the cat etc that they entered the property and took.
                What "legal action" are they threatening - before any legal action commences, they're meant to let you know what they are proposing to do, the first step isn't meant to be the action itself? A general threat of "legal action" is pretty meaningless.

                If they entered the premesis to take photographs of the cat, they needed the permission of one of the tenants (if you are joint tenants of the whole property) or to have remained in the "common areas" to take them if you are on individual contracts.

                Lawcruncher and KTC have pretty much stated the practical position.
                You are essentially in breach of contract (you can't unilaterallu decide it's unfair and ignore it), but the loss arising from the breach is likely to be negligable, in that any damage that the cat does is already covered by damage beyond fair wear and tear.

                If you are joint tenants, its possible that your other joint tenants will be unhappy to accept liability for damage they haven't do (cats cause damage beyond fair wear and tear, I have several).
                When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                Comment


                  #9
                  Is this a student let?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    The Moggie is the Tenant, not the OP and should be paying rent

                    I'm sure the moggie will be able leave a deposit too !!!!!!!!!!!!

                    Thunderbirds are go

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by mariner View Post
                      If a prohibition is held enforceable, then it is absolute, but (animal charity) advice is that a LL can reasonably specify type, number & breed of pet & require a pet bond or require T to undertake a pet 'deep clean' at end of T, without 'unreasonably withholding permission'.
                      What is reasonable has to depend on all the circumstances. "Pet bonds" and "pet deep cleans" are fairly recent innovations. Because they are common people assume they are "standard". But what is special about keeping pets that an extra deposit is required and the usual obligation to keep a property clean is considered inadequate?

                      Originally posted by mariner View Post
                      T keeping a pet is a LL concession, not a Right.
                      I cannot agree. If you are in BTL you are offering a product and the product is a home. It is clearly reasonable for a landlord to impose significant obligations such as prohibiting the tenant from making alterations or using the property to carry on a business, but when it comes to what might be termed everyday activities the benchmark for what a tenant can do in a home should be what an owner-occupier expects to do in a home. If, say, you are letting a three-bedroomed house with a decent garden and do not want pets it should be spelled out in the publicity and confirmed to anyone making an enquiry. It should not have to be the case that a tenant needs to ask if he can keep a pet anymore than he should need to ask what sort of food he is allowed to cook.

                      Originally posted by mariner View Post
                      Ts are still liable for pet (T) damage.
                      Agreed.

                      Comment

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