Dogs and Domestic Animals (Accommodation and Protection) Bill 2019-21

by Property 118

9:46 AM, 16th October 2020
About 5 days ago

Dogs and Domestic Animals (Accommodation and Protection) Bill 2019-21

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Dogs and Domestic Animals (Accommodation and Protection) Bill 2019-21

A new Parliamentary Private Members’ Bill sponsored by Andrew Rosindell, Conservative MP for Romford, would seek to give tenants who own a dog or other domestic animal the right to have it live in their rented home, provided they demonstrated responsibility and care for the animal. This is effectively seeking to ban no pet clauses.

The official summary states the Bill is to ‘establish rights to keep dogs and other animals in domestic accommodation, to make provision about the protection of the welfare of dogs and other domestic animals and for connected purposes.’ Click here

The first reading in Parliament was on the 14th of October and the second is due 29th January 2021

Andrew Rosindell opened the debate saying:

“A home is where special moments are created—living with a family, friends or companions. Moving into a new home is a normal part of life, but what if every time you move you face the threat of being separated from someone you love? Can a house or a flat ever be a home if you are forced to abandon a family member just to move in?

“You, Mr Speaker—an animal-loving Speaker—will know better than anyone that animals truly are members of one’s family. Having owned two Staffordshire Bull Terriers—Spike and Buster—I know how close the bonds between dog and owner can be and how devastating it is to lose them.

“Dogs are more than man’s best friend: they are equal members of the family. For most people, being separated from their dog is no different from being separated from their brother or sister. Sadly, pet owners who move into rented accommodation face the reality that their family could be torn apart because most landlords in Britain have unnecessary bans or restrictions on pet ownership. For those who depend on the companionship of their dog and need their loving friend to be with them—especially those who live alone—such restrictions are nothing less than discrimination, cruel to animal and owner alike.

“My Bill would end that discrimination, giving people who own a dog or other domestic animal the right to have it live in their rented home, provided the owner demonstrated responsibility and care for the animal.

“My Bill will henceforth be known as Jasmine’s law, after a Weimaraner who is owned by the Adams family in Surrey. Jasmine lives with Maria, but her son Jordan Adams would dearly love to accommodate Jasmine at his home apartment—if only for a few days or when his mother goes on holiday. Owing to restrictions imposed on tenants, Jordan is one of the millions of people across the UK who is prevented from having his beloved pet to stay with him.

“Many pet owners are, like Jordan, devastated to find that moving out of the family home means being separated from an animal who is such an important part of their lives. The no-pet clause on rented accommodation means that someone cannot have a dog over for even a short period for fear of recriminations or even losing their home. Instead of a dog staying with a familiar person, often they must be placed in a kennel, which can be a deeply stressful and unhappy experience for the dog.

“Such discrimination must now end. Some people who move to a new home are able to find somewhere for the animal to live, with trusted friends or family, but others are tragically forced to abandon their pets altogether, unable to find anywhere to live where the pet will be accepted. Sadly, these no-pet rules are cited by Battersea Dogs & Cats Home as the second biggest factor behind people giving up their dogs, with 200 dogs a year being handed in for rehoming simply because of landlord restrictions.

“These rules have the cruellest impact on the homeless, with many relying on companion animals for support and affection while living on the street. Too often, when they are offered housing by local authorities or housing associations, this comes with a no-pet clause. If they turn down an offer of accommodation, they are told that they are making themselves intentionally homeless and refused further housing assistance. Take the tragic case of John Chadwick, a homeless man who ended his own life after the only housing option his local council provided was one that meant separation from his pets. It is surely time to end these no-pets clauses that have caused so much pain and heartache for so many people.

“Of course, many landlords have legitimate concerns, which I do not want to dismiss lightly. It is true that irresponsibly owned pets can be a cause of damage, misery and suffering to the animals themselves, to the neighbours and to those who manage and own properties. We must therefore ensure that landlords’ concerns are met and that pet owners pass the test of responsible ownership by obtaining a certificate from a vet before moving in, confirming that they have a healthy, well-behaved animal and are considered to be a responsible owner. For a dog, a responsible ownership checklist would include being vaccinated and microchipped and being responsive to basic training commands, with appropriate rules applying, of course, to other animals.”

I hope that landlords, local authorities and housing associations listening to this debate today will consider overhauling their current policies in favour of one along the lines laid out in the Bill, and consider more fairly the rights of millions of responsible owners across the land. Particularly at a time when so many people are isolated, being able to own a dog can be vital to a person’s wellbeing and, of course, to their mental health. If tenants can prove that they are responsible owners and that their pets are well behaved and appropriate for the accommodation, there is no reason to deny them the right to live together with their animal companion.

Microchipping is also a key element of my Bill, which will stipulate that all cats and dogs kept in rented accommodation must be microchipped. It will also be mandatory for vets to scan animals brought into their surgery, ensuring that they are with their rightful owners. This will have the added advantage of helping to find both lost and stolen dogs. I commend the amazing work of Debbie Matthews and the group that she founded, Vets Get Scanning, which has campaigned for this for over a decade and was championed by her late father, the great Sir Bruce Forsyth. Part of the approval process for a pet to be moved into accommodation would be to have their microchip scanned by a vet to ensure that they were registered on a national database.

It cannot be right that so many pet owners in this country face the harsh reality that finding a place to live might mean permanent separation from the animal they love so much. Surely, as we take back control of our laws, now is the time to ensure that this nation of animal lovers remains a world leader in animal welfare. If France, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland can outlaw blanket restrictions on pets in rented accommodation, why can we not do the same here in the United Kingdom? The Government’s intention to remove no-pet clauses from their model tenancy agreement is a step in the right direction, but it does not go far enough. Jasmine’s law will replace the outdated and unfair no-pet clauses that many private and social landlords impose, setting out an alternative, streamlined system that will mean peace of mind for landlords, tenants and, of course, the animals themselves. At its core, my Bill represents the values of personal responsibility, individual rights and animal welfare, and today I seek to enshrine in law these important freedoms applicable to all responsible pet owners throughout the nation. I commend Jasmine’s law and this Bill to the House.


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Comments

James Noble

11:20 AM, 16th October 2020
About 5 days ago

Oh no! I tried this in the past, and every time the property has suffered. With the best will in the world, there will be problems - try taking a dog out (as you must) on a rainy day. Try to stop cats clawing at the furniture. Dogs will often bark especially when the owner is out. What will the state of the garden be? It's simply cruel to keep any sort of animal in a high rise flat.... You can have any amounts of certificates - you can award them a degree - but it still won't stop the numerous problems associated with having pets in your house. (And it is still 'your' house, especially when any work needs to be done!) It's a daft idea, and so, in this country, it's likely to happen! James

JB

11:47 AM, 16th October 2020
About 5 days ago

If I could post a smell on here you could be treated to the delight of the stench of a puppy farm operating in a first floor flat with no garden and puppies free to wee and poo everywhere.

I do allow pets but only with tenants I trust and where the lease allows it.

Happy Landlord

13:23 PM, 16th October 2020
About 5 days ago

The bonkers season is here again - I love animals our current dog is a rescue dog BUT a small flat is not suitable for any animal. I frequently allow dogs and cats in my bungalows and houses but NOT flats. The environment is just not suitable in most cases - a dog barks whatever an owner might say, with the best will in the world both cats and dogs poop on the carpet. In 25 years plus of renting properties whenever a pet is housed the carpets have to be changed at the end of a tenancy, the garden is a mess if a dog has been in residence and the property needs redecoration. I don't think there has been one exception.
No No No this is a crazy suggestion

WP

14:01 PM, 16th October 2020
About 5 days ago

I will at all times refuse to let me property to anyone I don't want to - end of. If I have to find legal reason to do, so I will. In regard to this ridiculous proposal I may well develop overnight an allergy to pet hair. As I conduct my own LL checks this is clearly detrimental to inspections - which in turn I am legally obligated to carry out. Go figure.

Jan

14:02 PM, 16th October 2020
About 5 days ago

I discovered some of my tenants had a large dog, I was never consulted. It never ever caused mess or damage and was always friendly when I met it. HOWEVER due to the dog the tenants refused access to workmen for essential repairs, as the dog guarded the house when they were at work. Any dog, large or small can guard it's property, it's not unusual dog behaviour but it did make life exceptionally difficult when work had to be done.

In my own experience of owning dogs and cats, they do take a heavy toll on carpets, wallpaper, furnishings etc. They can leave flea infestations and cause allergies in future tenants.

One of my own dogs ate furniture and tore up carpets and lino despite not being left for more than the odd hour or two while I did essential shopping. The difference is I owned that property and footed the entire cost, and I also had a garden and the priviledge of being able to WFH to look after it.

Noisy, unhappy dogs in small flats can be a nightmare for other people and untrained dogs, especially if left to roam, can be seriously dangerous.

Yes, a dog can be a wonderful conpanion and loved like a family member but it's not something that should be considered a 'legal right' in all circumstances. How do you define a 'well behaved' animal anyway?

James Noble

14:44 PM, 16th October 2020
About 5 days ago

I guess 'Mr Speaker' owns his own house (or even houses?) He is not a tenant, and nor would be the vast majority of M.Ps. Lots of crooked thinking and emotional blackmail in that speech.

James D

14:49 PM, 16th October 2020
About 5 days ago

I will be writing to Andrew Rossendall on his appalling behaviour in the house of commons. By that i mean trying to side with Mr Speaker and his dogs ( giving their names) , "unnecessary bans ", "such restrictions are nothing less than discrimination, cruel to animal and owner alike", and "with 200 dogs a year being handed in for rehoming simply because of landlord restrictions". Wheres the proof of all that.
However more shameful is attributing the death of a homeless man who ended his own life after the only housing option his local council provided was one that meant separation from his pets. Totally disgraceful. Once again this conservative government is hounding against landlords and i commend all landlords to stop moaning do something about it.

Mick Roberts

15:23 PM, 16th October 2020
About 5 days ago

Or we could do what has happened for 20+ years before, let the Landlord charge a touch more deposit, that way if no damage, no loss to tenant, tenant & dog gets a home. How simple was that & it worked? Oh I see MP's & Shelter dint like that, that was too simple. Let's hammer the Landlord in the ground & enforce some restrictions on him. Hence we are where we are.

And Landlords will just stay silent about why they refusing.

Gunga Din

18:15 PM, 16th October 2020
About 5 days ago

Reply to the comment left by James D at 16/10/2020 - 14:49
I agree. It was a nauseatingly theatrical attemptedly heart string pulling waste of the House's time. I'm sure he was faking tears and sobbing, his voice quivering, at strategic emotional moments of the speech. Surely there are a few more important things for the Gov't to be concentrating on at the moment?

Many of us will have horror stories so I won't relate mine. Suffice to say we are not allowed to take sufficient deposit to cover the risk. No pre-tenancy procedures can guarantee the behaviour of a pet when it enters a new environment, and I agree that whilst many small creatures can cope with living inside all the time, dogs can't and I'm not that happy about cats doing it either.

Di Driscoll

22:52 PM, 16th October 2020
About 4 days ago

It surely can't be applied in an HMO?
I have a dog who was re-housed because he was kept in a flat and barked all the time he was left alone. And a lurcher who has to have 6ft fence. I also know what it's like to have a cat using the stair carpet as a scratching post and elderly dogs getting incontinent.

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