Animal related nuisance – an issue for landlords and residents

The RSPCA have produced a housing good practice guide on the issue of nuisance relating to animals and pets. This will be of particular interest to landlords who are considering reviewing their tenancy agreements and/or anti-social behaviour policies and procedures.

The guide aims to tackle irresponsible pet ownership which can cause suffering to animals and be a nuisance to neighbours.

The guide looks specifically at tenancy agreements and pets policies and what they should contain, as well as useful case studies of action social landlords such as Affinity Sutton, for example have taken.

Pets Policy

A pets policy typically sets out the expected behaviours of tenants in relation to pets, including their legal obligations, what is required of owners and the potential consequences of failing to observe the policy.

The guide says that a pets policy should contain the following information which should also be included in the tenancy agreement where possible:

  • a clear statement that the owner is legally responsible for their pet’s welfare and a clear process for dealing with any welfare or cruelty complaints;
  • a clear statement that the owner must ensure that the pet does not cause a nuisance and is not used in an anti-social manner including details of what is expected from a responsible owner, together with a clear process for dealing with nuisance complaints;
  • clarification on which pets are allowed, where they are allowed, where they are not, and how many pets a tenant may keep giving consideration to the size and style of the property and confirmation of whether or not a tenant is able to replace a pet when it dies;
  • conditions that tackle indiscriminate breeding, sale of animals and ‘accidental’ ownership as well as whether or not a landlord will allow home-boarding and, therefore, whether tenants can run a business from the property;
  • what it will do with pets left behind in properties, including those left unattended; and
  • procedures on common pet related problems such as stray pets, fouling, excessive noise and animal neglect and animal hoarding.

Tenancy Agreement Clauses

It is recommended by the RSPCA that tenancy agreements contain a clause about pet ownership which is completed after the landlord has supplied the tenant with information about owning a pet.

The tenancy agreement should contain the following information:

About the owner of the pet

  • contact details, including details of a specified individual to look after the pet in the event of an emergency;
  • accommodation information e.g. the type of accommodation where the pet is to be kept and whether or not there is any access to a garden; and
    the owner’s history on keeping pets e.g. previous offences.

About the pet

  • details of how many and the type of animals the tenant would like to keep;
  • confirmation that the pets vaccinations and other treatments are up to date;
  • details of permanent identifiers such as micro chipping; and
  • breeding prevention information regarding the pet.

It is also suggested a signed declaration be completed by the owner of the pet that they understand and will fulfil their obligations as a responsible owner and that the tenant is aware of the consequences if the owner fails to meet those obligations.

In addition to the above, the RSPCA guide recommends proactive preventative measures such as pet registration schemes and the education of both staff and residents.

It is suggested in the guide that landlords may want to document the thinking behind their pet policy and tenancy terms and to keep examples of situations which have led to any changes to their policy.

Access CAWF Housing Good Practice Guide 2012 here.

For more information

If you would like to discuss this further, please contact our Housing Management team via 0121 212 7400.