The Kennel Club supports the Dogs and Domestic Animals (Accommodation and Protection) Bill to establish rights to keep dogs in domestic accommodation.
Background and proposals
No-pet clauses on rented accommodation are the second most prominent reason behind people giving up their dogs, with 200 dogs per year taken to rescue or rehoming centres as a direct result of landlord restrictions. Countries such as France, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland have already outlawed blanket restrictions on pets in rented accommodation. Currently, only 7% of landlords advertise their properties as suitable for pets, despite over 4.5 million private rental households in the UK and nearly half of all households owning a pet.
The Bill, also known as Jasmine’s Law, would ensure that owners of dogs or other domestic animals have the right to have their pet live in their rented home, provided they are able to demonstrate responsibility and care for the animal.
Under the proposed legislation, pet owners would be required to prove that they are responsible owners by, for example, obtaining a certification from a veterinarian prior to moving in to confirm that they have a healthy, well-behaved animal and are considered to be a responsible owner. Pets would also be required to be fully vaccinated, microchipped and responsive to basic training commands.
Current legislation and plans
In early 2020, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government committed to revising their model tenancy contracts for renters, which could be used as the basis of lease agreements made between landlords and tenants. This decision should have removed restrictions on well behaved pets and ensured that more landlords were catering for responsible pet owners ‘wherever possible’.
There is currently little support for pet owners in rented accommodation. However, according to the Consumer Rights Act (2015), tenants have the right to ask permission to keep a pet and landlords cannot refuse without sufficient reason. Potential reasons for refusal could include allergies, conditions in the building’s lease, and the landlord’s insurance policy.
Those with assistance dogs and service animals must not be refused as tenants by landlords – doing so is discrimination and could be illegal.
The Kennel Club’s position
We believe it is vital that those living in rented accommodation are able to have their pets living with them. With rental accommodation restrictions one of the biggest causes of dogs being taken to rescue centres or rehomed, the Bill would be an important step towards reducing the number of abandoned dogs each year.
As well as this, pet ownership has numerous positive health and social benefits. Daily exercise and the companionship provided by owning a dog improves mental, physical and emotional health, saving the NHS an estimated £2.45 billion annually1. It is important that pet owners are not separated from their pets so that they can continue to enjoy the benefits of dog ownership.
No-pet clauses in social accommodation also has a deeply cruel impact on the homeless, with many relying on the support and companionship provided by their dog whilst living on the street. It has been estimated that over three quarters of the largest local authorities in London do not allow all their tenants to keep a dog2. If a homeless person turns down an offer of accommodation due to a property’s no-pet clause, they are subsequently told that they are intentionally making themselves homeless and then refused further housing assistance. This also raises concerns regarding the affect that no-pet clauses and cruel separation policies can have on mental health.
Whilst we understand that landlords may have concerns relating to property damage, we believe that training can be an important solution: we encourage dog owners to be responsible and train their dogs, including through programs such as the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme.
Depending on the local authority, animal breeding is currently not allowed in rented social accommodation. However the Bill could allow breeders to continue breeding pets in rented accommodation which would help to fulfil current high levels of domestic demand, which in turn would address other demand-related issues such as puppy smuggling and illegal importation.
As an alternative to ‘no pet’ clauses, we would encourage landlords to look to solutions such as the Good Citizen Dog Scheme for dog owners and The Kennel Club Assured Breeders scheme which sets out high standards for those wishing to breed dogs and ensures they are inspected prior to breeding even one litter.
If there is an issue you feel strongly about, write a letter to your parliamentary representative lending your support to one of our many campaigns and letting them know how they can help. Your emails and letters don't need to be long, in fact, the shorter the better as politicians are very busy. By doing this you will be playing your part in keeping the welfare of dogs on the political agenda.
Our guide to letter writing
While we know that it is much easier simply to copy a letter and send it off, your parliamentary representative is far more likely to take notice if you write your own letter. Use the guideline below to draft your own letter:
[YOUR HOUSE NUMBER AND STREET]
[NAME OF POLITICIAN]
[PARLIAMENT OR ASSEMBLY ADDRESS]
Paragraph 1: Why you are writing
The first paragraph of your letter should always introduce your concerns to your parliamentary representative. For example:
‘I am writing to you regarding the issue of [INSERT TOPIC], to ask that you support The Kennel Club’s campaign to...’
(This information can be found on the relevant campaign page of our website.)
Paragraph 2: What you want to change
Each of the campaign’s pages on The Kennel Club’s website outlines the organisation’s official position and what is being done to try and push for change. This information can act as a guideline for telling your parliamentary representative how existing legislation needs to be amended.
If you are writing to request that your parliamentary representative support The Kennel Club on a specific issue, you may wish to use something along the lines of the following wording as an introduction to the paragraph:
‘The Kennel Club acts as a voice for thousands of dog owners across the United Kingdom. Supported by its vast expertise and experience on dog-related matters, The Kennel Club is proposing the following…’
…then write a bullet-point list into your letter.
Paragraph 3: Why these changes are necessary
Providing politicians with evidence will demonstrate that your concerns are valid. Use facts and figures to support your argument, and describe any personal experiences that you may have had to make your case even more powerful.
Paragraph 4: Action points
Tell your parliamentary representative the line of action that you wish them to take on this matter. This could be taking the matter up with their party, raising the issue in parliament, signing an EDM or supporting a specific Bill. If you are unsure what to write in this paragraph, contact The Kennel Club's public affairs team for advice.
Paragraph 5: Signing off
Request a reply. You may also wish to arrange a face-to-face meeting to discuss the issue further. Then all that is left to do is sign off:
‘I look forward to hearing from you.
[INSERT YOUR NAME]’
Once you have received a reply
To help keep us up-to-date on which politicians are aware/supportive of our campaigns, please photocopy or summarise the response you receive and send it to us by email or by post to: The Kennel Club Public Affairs, 1-5 Clarges Street, Piccadilly, London, W1J 8AB.
If your parliamentary representative has agreed to meet with you, read our guide to a successful meeting with parliamentary representatives below.
Our guide to a successful meeting with parliamentary representatives
Most parliamentary representatives hold surgeries where constituents can meet them face to face. Sometimes notices of surgeries appear in local newspapers, but if not you can contact your MP, MSP, AM or MLA’s office directly to book your appointment in advance.
Five steps to success
- Preparation is key. Make a list of questions/topic areas that you want to discuss with your parliamentary representative. Go armed with facts and figures to support your argument. You should also take a notepad and pen to write down any important points for reference
- Be direct. Introduce yourself and what you are there to discuss. State your concerns clearly, countering any opposing points that they may make. Do not become emotional – you will make a stronger argument by being calm and reasonable throughout
- Listen and respond constructively. Once you have made your position, allow your MP/MSP/AM/MLA to present you with his/hers. Listen carefully for areas of agreement and disagreement, always be positive and try to ask questions that will probe their personal viewpoint rather than that of their party
- Be aware of time. Stick to the issue and try not to get sidetracked into general debate - you will have a limited amount of time with him/her and it is important to make sure you get across all the points you wish to make
- At the end of the meeting and beyond… Thank them for the meeting, summarise your discussion and outline the steps you can take going forward. Let them know that they can contact you in the future to discuss the issue further.
For further information or advice, please contact The Kennel Club public affairs department on 020 7518 1020 or by email.