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The need for legislation to ban the use of ‘no pet’ covenants in residential leases and supported accommodation

There is a growing body of research showing that people enjoy social, psychological and physical health benefits from living with their companion animals. Yet in the important area of housing, the law does nothing to protect the human-companion animal relationship. Each year thousands of people are forced to relinquish their beloved companion animals when their circumstances change and they move into rental accommodation that bans pets. Vulnerable people, such as the elderly, mentally ill and homeless, are particularly at risk of losing their companion animals because they are more likely to need to move into supported accommodation and have little control over where they go. Having to give up a companion animal for rehoming or euthanasia is traumatic for both the human and the animal.

There are strong legal arguments (in human rights and consumer rights) to support legislation that bans ‘no pet’ covenants. Such legislation exists in other countries including France (since the 1970s) and parts of Canada. This legislation prohibits the use of ‘no pet’ covenants but seeks to protect the rights of landlords and other tenants by including exceptions (e.g. pets who are a nuisance or cause severe allergic reactions may be excluded) and allowing additional ‘pet deposits’ to cover the cost of any damage to property caused by the pet (which in practice is rare). As home ownership decreases, more and more people are affected by ‘no pet’ covenants in residential leases and are being denied the opportunity to enjoy the substantial benefits of living with a companion animal.

You can read more about the legal arguments in the article: Rook, D. 2018. ‘For the Love of Darcie: Recognising the Human–Companion Animal Relationship in Housing Law and Policy’ Liverpool Law Review: 29-46 (available here).

There is a currently petition open calling on the Scottish Parliament to debate the need for legislation to ban the use of ‘no pet’ covenants in residential leases and care homes. Please sign and share this petition:

PE01706: Introduce a law to allow pets in rented and supported accommodation – Getting Involved: Scottish Parliament

The petition needs 100,000 signatures by 10th October 2018 in order for the Scottish Parliament to debate the topic.

Debbie Rook
29th August 2018

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