Pets In Flats
There have been a number of calls over the years for private sector landlords to allow tenants to keep pets, but such a decision is down to the freeholder, as many leases either prevent this or require the consent of the freeholder to do so.
These stipulations are often ignored by buy to let landlords and their letting agents although it is also fair to say that despite being instructed by some landlords not to allow pets, letting agents still go ahead and allow it!
In theory, if pet owners are responsible owners then there really shouldn’t be any problems but starting with dogs first, if they are left alone for long periods of time (large or small) they can damage fixture and fittings through sheer frustration and loneliness and a continually barking dog is stressful not just for the animal but also the neighbours! A dog also needs to be taken out for regular walks and trained not to use the common areas as its own personal toilet!
So, what about cats?
Cats can also damage furniture and fixtures and defecate where they are not supposed to. Much of this kind of behaviour can sometimes be attributed to them having been taken away from their mothers too soon, resulting in their social skills not having being fully developed. However, because cats have the reputation for being more independent than dogs, this aspect may well be overlooked. In fact it may not be even known!
So, how should we expect responsible pet owners to behave?
My partner is Director of the RMC which owns the freehold and to date we have three cats of our own.
We never intended to have a pet of any description but our eldest cat (who we named Sox) was heard mewing in our flower beds around 1.30am one morning around three years ago. On going down to investigate my partner found himself with a tiny, cold and hungry 6-week (approximately) kitten who was obviously much too young to be alone outside. She’d had her whiskers cut off and her first tummy turn out was horrendous! This was because she had been given to an alcoholic tenant in the misguided attempt to get him to take some responsibility for him and her. That’s her in the top photo.
We certainly couldn’t abandon her because we fell in love with her and she us! It would have been a different story if we were both at work all day but because we are both at home, my partner because he is long term sick and under the care of his GP (and hospital) and me because I work from home, we were able to devote the time and attention she needed.
Our second cat (Shadow) was given to us as a present (that’s her in this photo) and whilst we accept she was given to us in an attempt to house numerous cats some friends of ours had, she has been one of the best presents we have ever received. Whilst she turned out to have skin problems and what we think is a shortened digestive system, making her a bit of a stinky puss we love her all the same because its not her fault!
Our third cat (Smudge) I found on the rear balcony in December around a year and half ago although I think she found me because she miaowed at me from a first floor balcony at the rear of the flats. This is her sitting in a basket and wrapped up in a jacket of mine before we bit the bullet and took her in too.
Getting back to dogs and the problems they can cause, if their owners are really responsible they can be an absolute delight. As usual we were left out of the loop and one day about three years ago this beautiful Siberian Husky suddenly appeared with his owners. He turned out to be the most well-behaved and well-cared for dog I have ever seen. His owners have a work schedule that means he is rarely on his own (and even when he is he never barks) and I take him for walks a couple of days a week when I am needed. Even our cats seem to like him!
I just hope that if another dog presents itself it is as well-loved and behaved as our lovely Huskie!
If pet owners want to move into rented accommodation with the pets they already have then it is imperative that the freeholder (if they use their discretion and allow them) be confident that the owners can show how responsible they are. Pet owners also need to understand that consent can be withdrawn at any time if there turns out to be a behavioural issue with the pet, whether dog or cat.
It is important that this is understood because in my own personal experience, when a renting tenant (who had been here for around two) took a kitten from a friend at 4 weeks old, it was friendly enough but not feisty enough to raise concerns at the time. However as it got older, it became more aggressive, showing this to not just its owner and her young son, but especially to me with the photo here being that of my left hand when the cat bit me and I lost the use of it for 6 months. Being left handed you can imagine how difficult that was, not to mention the pain!
As I hope this article demonstrates, the keeping of pets can be a complex issue.