There have been a number of calls over the years for more private sector landlords to allow subtenants to keep pets, but it’s not that simple because whether they are allowed to or not is dictated to by the terms of the lease, not the tenancy agreement. In fact many leases require freeholder consent with some lease not allowing the keeping of pets at all!

Such stipulations are often ignored, not just by the leaseholder landlords but also by their letting agents which puts the leaseholder in breach of their lease.  It’s also fair to say that despite being instructed by some leaseholders 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 taking dogs as an example. If they are left alone for long periods of time (large or small) they can not only damage fixture and fittings through sheer frustration and loneliness but 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 should not be taken from their mothers too soon (ideally not before three months) as their social skills will not have been developed as far as they should be. They need to be kept indoors for at least 6 weeks so they can become familiar with their new surroundings and someone should be with them during this time. Cats will tell their owners whether they want to be indoor or outdoor cats and a responsible owner will know what type of cat they have and adjust their lifestyles accordingly. Not all cats are independent creatures that don’t need cuddles!

I had a horrendous personal experience when a renting tenant 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!

We never intended to have a pet of any description but around 5 years ago my partner heard a mewing in our flowerbeds around 1 am. On going down to investigate he 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 could never have kept her if we had both been going out to work but because we were 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 in December around 3 years ago although I think she found me first 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 with regards to keeping pets (my partner is Director of our freehold RMC) 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 had a work schedule that meant he was rarely on his own (and even when he was he never barked) and I took him for walks a couple of days a week when I was needed. Even our cats seemed to like him!

I just hope that if another dog presents itself it is as well-loved and behaved as our lovely Huskie!


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