Case law: Refusal of tenant’s request to keep a pet not unreasonable, even though management company operated blanket no-pets policy
Tenants wishing to keep pets in their flats should check their leases to see if consent is required and, if it is, the terms upon which it can be given or refused, a recent ruling makes clear.
This update was published in Legal Alert - May 2018
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Tenants of a long lease flat in London wanted to keep a pet dog but their lease said this was forbidden without consent of the management company. They asked for consent. It seemed that the company had applied a blanket no-pets policy since 2002, as this is what the majority of tenants wanted. It refused consent, but told the tenant it might give it if there were special circumstances. The tenants claimed they needed a dog for therapeutic and clinical reasons, so the company asked for medical evidence. None was ever provided. Consent was refused.
The tenants kept their dog in their flat so the company applied to court to remove them.
The law says that some private bodies (such as management companies), if given a discretion, must exercise it reasonably. They must take into account matters they are bound to consider, and ignore those that are irrelevant, and must not act unreasonably or irrationally. The tenants argued the management company had acted unreasonably and taken irrelevant matters (the blanket no-pets policy) into account.
The High Court ruled that the management company was applying a policy but it was reasonable to do so as the policy reflected the wishes of the other tenants, who were the majority members of the company. It was therefore reasonable to take the policy into account when deciding whether to give consent.
The company had also made it clear that, in special circumstances, it would still give consent, despite the policy. The policy was not therefore being applied inflexibly – it did not automatically predetermine the results of any application for consent.
- Tenants wishing to keep pets in their flats should check their leases and, if consent is required, the terms upon which it can be given or refused.
Case ref: Victory Place Management Company Limited v Florian Gunter Kuehn and Gabrielle Maria Kuehn  EWHC 132
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