August 25, 2018

Dogs and cats in rented property

Legal advice from Imelda in Metro magazine

Can your landlord remove your dog or cat from your home?

The first inclination for those who would like to have a dog or a cat in their house is approach the landlord for an agreement. But is this necessary? And what do you do if he or she puts the kibosh on
your pet plans?

Let's start with good news: there is no law that prohibits pets in a rented home or apartment. When you rent a property, the rules of the Civil Code apply. This means that the owners are free to include a ban on keeping pet (s) in a rental contract. In practice this is something that often happens out of fear of dirt, damage or noise pollution. If both parties can agree to this ban, there is no problem. That is what advocate Imelda Delcon, who works for the Shin dog shelter, suggests.


But what if a tenant does take a pet? Can the landlord break the lease for that reason and have the tenant removed from the building? Legally, the landlord is not allowed to take the law into his own hands and he has to go to court for this.

The judges are of the opinion that keeping a pet in itself is no reason to break a lease, even if this contract contains a ban. They consider such a prohibition as an invasion of privacy, and thus an infringement of the European Convention on Human Rights. Some judges go even further. They even find that the owner commits abuse of rights when he wants to terminate a contract because the tenant - even with a prohibition clause - has pet (s).


However, if the pet causes proven damage or if the animal being there leads to nuisance, the situation is different. If the owner refuses to repair the damage, the judge can impose a number of measures. For example, the tenant may be required to remove the faeces from the pet and to compensate for the damage suffered. Furthermore, the landlord can forbid the tenant to leave the animal alone and even insist that it goes. If the tenant also refuses this and there is a proven, well-founded reason, the court can then terminate the contract. In practice, however, this is rare.


In order to determine whether a pet causes inconvenience, the necessary tolerance on each side must also be demonstrated before a judge. Just because a neighbor is (exaggeratedly) sensitive to any noise, that doesn't amount to a nuisance. In addition, anyone who claims to experience damage or nuisance must prove that the animal is responsible for this. Note: the complaining neighbor does not necessarily have more weight in the court than the owner of the pet.

These rules also apply to regulations of co-ownership. Here too, a ban on keeping pets is in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.


A landlord can not break a tenancy agreement if his tenant violates the prohibition of keeping a pet. As a general rule, the case-law states that such a prohibition is contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights.

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