Question: My grandmother has just bought a flat in a converted Victorian house. It is a garden maisonette with a small courtyard at the rear, which she thought would be perfect for her small terrier. When I visited her recently she was distraught because she had been told by a neighbour that the management company does not allow dogs and so she will not be able to keep her dog. How can this have happened and what can she do?
© Merrily Harpur
Answer: Consider the terms of your grandmother's lease and any regulations that might have been made by the management company.
Most residential leases include a clause prohibiting the keeping of animals or pets unless the prior written consent of the landlord is obtained, which may not be unreasonably withheld.
Further, there is likely to be a restrictive covenant providing that a lessee must not do anything on or at the property or allow anything to be done on or at the property that causes a nuisance to neighbours. A barking dog could amount to nuisance.
Contact the management company and request their written consent to allow the dog to remain at the flat. They may agree, but with the proviso that if the dog causes a nuisance their consent will be withdrawn.
If the lease prohibits the keeping of dogs altogether, you will need to contact the management company or freeholder to establish if they will consider changing the terms of the lease. This would have to be done by deed of variation and would involve not only your grandmother but also the other lessees, as their leases would have to be changed, too.
As your grandmother would be the one requesting a variation of the leases she would be asked to meet all legal costs. Ask your grandmother's solicitors why this restriction was not explained to her when she bought the flat.
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Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP (www.thrings.com).
These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.