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Tenant with Cat (no supposed to have) - What are my right exactly?

Duk
Duk Posts: 117 Forumite
First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
edited 25 April 2023 at 2:17PM in House buying, renting & selling
Hi All,

I have been renting a property for the last 11 years, in July 2020 we got a cat, it was mainly to do with me having some mental health issues and working from home by myself, my psychiatrist thought it would be a huge help to me which it has been. We have had 3 inspections a year since (no damage has ever been noted) and every time I bring the cat to the cattery and hide the cat's belongings in my car, we have an inspection coming up and I have told them the truth now as I do not think its fair on the cat.

Back around 2014 we were told it would be no problem by our previous letting agent but how official that was I don't know and whether they ever asked the landlord, but it does state no pets in the last letting agreement we signed in 2019 (month by month since), but I did not really want to risk the chance of rejection during the pandemic as it was something I felt I really needed. I look after the property well, there is no damage only some wear and tear, and never miss rent.

I know since then the government has brought out some new laws for tenants but I do not know what they mean exactly, I am sure it would be no problem but wanted to know my rights, would eviction be likely? I have actually paid the maximum deposit so I am happy to suggest a rent increase if they are worried. But I have been here 11 years and no work has been done to the property to say anything is more than wear and tear, I mean the cat literally only uses her scratching poles, so no issues with carpets.

Thanks for any advice.
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Comments

  • secla
    secla Posts: 308 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    They could issue a section 21 the same as they could for anything they didnt like without giving reason.
    It would be quite silly for a landlord to evict a long standing tennant when no damage is being done. 
  • Jonboy_1984
    Jonboy_1984 Posts: 1,221 Forumite
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    What sort of property is it?

    If it is leasehold flat then there MAY be clauses in the lease that prevent pet ownership regardless of the landlord or agency’s opinions.

  • Duk
    Duk Posts: 117 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    What sort of property is it?

    If it is leasehold flat then there MAY be clauses in the lease that prevent pet ownership regardless of the landlord or agency’s opinions.

    The tenancy is assured shorthold, can't see any wording about leasehold. It is a flat but the cat was raised an indoor cat due to the amount of allergies she has. Flat is a large flat and I provide plenty of verticle items like cat trees and play with her about 2 hours a day. She is quite content ;)
  • Duk
    Duk Posts: 117 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    secla said:
    They could issue a section 21 the same as they could for anything they didnt like without giving reason.
    It would be quite silly for a landlord to evict a long standing tennant when no damage is being done. 
    This was my first thought.
  • user1977
    user1977 Posts: 14,024 Forumite
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    If there's no other reason to kick you out and they can see there's no damage (which you'd have to pay for anyway), why would they evict? 
  • eddddy
    eddddy Posts: 16,430 Forumite
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper
    Duk said:

    The tenancy is assured shorthold, can't see any wording about leasehold. It is a flat but the cat was raised an indoor cat due to the amount of allergies she has. Flat is a large flat and I provide plenty of verticle items like cat trees and play with her about 2 hours a day. She is quite content ;)

    The set-up will usually be something like this:
    • Somebody owns the building (they are called the freeholder)
    • Your landlord leases the flat from the freeholder
    • You rent the flat from your landlord

    If that's the case, it's very likely that either:
    • Your landlord has promised the freeholder that they won't have any pets in the flat (it's called a covenant), or
    • Your landlord has promised the freeholder that they won't have any pets in the flat, unless they get written permission first - and pay a fee (again, that's called a covenant)

    If somebody complains about your cat to the freeholder - your landlord could get into trouble. Your landlord might be charged a series of fees - eventually the fees could add up to hundreds of pounds. (In theory, your landlord could even have their flat repossessed, if the cat remains in the flat.)

    So the landlord might be forced to tell you that you cannot keep your cat in the flat.


  • Duk
    Duk Posts: 117 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    eddddy said:
    Duk said:

    The tenancy is assured shorthold, can't see any wording about leasehold. It is a flat but the cat was raised an indoor cat due to the amount of allergies she has. Flat is a large flat and I provide plenty of verticle items like cat trees and play with her about 2 hours a day. She is quite content ;)

    The set-up will usually be something like this:
    • Somebody owns the building (they are called the freeholder)
    • Your landlord leases the flat from the freeholder
    • You rent the flat from your landlord

    If that's the case, it's very likely that either:
    • Your landlord has promised the freeholder that they won't have any pets in the flat (it's called a covenant), or
    • Your landlord has promised the freeholder that they won't have any pets in the flat, unless they get written permission first - and pay a fee (again, that's called a covenant)

    If somebody complains about your cat to the freeholder - your landlord could get into trouble. Your landlord might be charged a series of fees - eventually the fees could add up to hundreds of pounds. (In theory, your landlord could even have their flat repossessed, if the cat remains in the flat.)

    So the landlord might be forced to tell you that you cannot keep your cat in the flat.


    I have read tonight that the freeholder could not force that under the equality act 2010 due to me having a disability and the recommendation coming from a psychiatrist. They would need to prove the cat is a nuisance to other neighbors, some have dogs btw. 

    Would it just not be likely landlord says nothing to the freeholder? 

    I also do not think it would be be likely for them to tell me to get rid if it's detrimental to my disability. Surely the freeholder would be pushing on some form of discrimination? 
  • Duk
    Duk Posts: 117 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    edited 25 April 2023 at 2:14AM
    So I paid for the title register, no mention of pets or animals in covenant.
  • Duk said:

    I also do not think it would be be likely for them to tell me to get rid if it's detrimental to my disability. Surely the freeholder would be pushing on some form of discrimination? 
    I'd be careful with this; they may come up with some reason why it's not 'reasonable' for you to keep the cat - what if you have a new neighbour move in with allergies? Or now they know you have a cat they look for and find damage they attribute to the animal at the next inspection?

    But the broader point is that generally you won't be evicted for having a cat, even if your tenancy forbids pets, because it's a discretionary cause and unless there's evidence of damage or other problems the court tends to see it as excessive.

    A landlord who truly does not want animals on the property (or doesn't like that their tenant has lied to them) might instead issue a S21 (giving no reason), which does not require any evidence and would not be discriminatory. 

    It would be unusual for a landlord to do this for such a small thing and if that happens then it generally indicates a wider breakdown of the landlord/tenant relationship - if things are currently going well (as you suggest) then I'd continue as normal. 
    I'm not an early bird or a night owl; I’m some form of permanently exhausted pigeon.
  • You have broken your tenancy agreement.

    Any internet searching to justify your actions under the equality act is a bit underhanded as if you wanted to use this you should have come clean when the psychiatrist advised getting the cat.

    Now you have come clean you will just have to wait to see if this causes an issue with your LL.

    If it does cause issues and you are asked to leave be polite and find somewhere else to live, if that's likely to take time explain that and agree a timescale. Communication is key.

    Any other action you take other than leaving quietly really isn't on imo if it comes to that.

    Being a long term good paying tenant(I presume) likelihood is if there are no restrictions in the leasehold then all will be ok.


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