The Times (from behind a paywall) have reported on a proposal by Labour to oblige residential landlords to allow tenants to keep pets, unless they cause a nuisance.
We are known to be a nation of animal lovers, so it is probably quite a safe political move for any party to say that they prefer dogs or cats to landlords.
At the moment, residential leaseholders (ie owners of flats) who love animals have less protection than short term residential tenants.
It is a breach of consumer protection law to include a clause in tenancy agreements that simply bans pets. Landlords can refuse to allow tenants to keep pets if that is, in the circumstances, reasonable. That will be a question of fact and a landlord could justify their response to a tenant request by considering the characteristics of the animal or breed, the impact on other tenants, the need to deal with damage or smells when the tenant leaves and other similar issues. There are ways addressing those points without banning pets, for example by requiring the tenant to use a specialist cleaner when they leave the property.
Residential leaseholders have fewer rights. A recently reported case (Victory Place Management Company v Kuehn) makes it clear that a blanket ban in a long term residential lease could be upheld. In that case a residential management company was held to have applied the ban consistently, in accordance with the wishes of the majority of the other leaseholders. Essentially, it was reasonable to be inflexible, in the absence of any special medical reasons for keeping a dog.
Even if the Labour proposal is not introduced in future, there is a trend towards treating leaseholders more like consumers than investors, and giving them greater legal protections. It might be the case in future that more cat-egories of property owner are allowed to keep pets in their property. This dog-ged issue could continue to affect the property industry.
"The freeholder of my two-bedroom flat in west London is the picture of upper-middle-class churchgoing decorum, bookish and ladylike. So her reaction to my announcement that I was getting a dog was completely unexpected: “Christ, no! The last thing we need is more sh*t everywhere.”