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Tenants dog - residents complaints to managing agent

(14 Posts)
mistymeanour Fri 17-Jul-15 14:56:46

I rent out my one bed basement flat (while we moved away for work and also rent). The flat is in a building which was once a very large house and is leasehold. The building and services are managed by a company but I manage the rental myself. I have received a letter today from the agent saying that my tenant (of about 18 months) has a dog and that they have been receiving complaints for a number of months about the noise and that my tenant has been informed several times. They are writing to me as the owner as I am in breach of the leasehold as there is a no pets clause in it.

I had no idea my tenant had a dog (he was told there was a no pets clause when he took the flat) and I have not done inspections. If anything needed fixed I organised for the relevant tradesperson to call and invoice me.

What do I do? Will I have to give the tenant an ultimatum- re home dog or move out? It seems so harsh - but he didn't ask me.

PosterEh Fri 17-Jul-15 15:01:30

Of course you will. You have no choice, it's breaching the leasehold.

Don't feel too bad about it. I can't believe anyone would think a dog would be allowed in a rental without checking so chances are the tenant is knowingly breaking the tenancy agreement.

PosterEh Fri 17-Jul-15 15:03:21

I would also consider giving the neighbours my contact number so that these issues don't go unchecked for so long next time, especially if you are not doing inspections.

mistymeanour Fri 17-Jul-15 15:34:13

PosterEh - I know you are right. I just hate having to be a bad guy. When I lived there other tenants/residents had pets - cats, small dogs etc. I think as long as no one complained that the Freehold agents turned a blind eye.

I am surprised the agents didn't contact us sooner - we know a couple of the employees quite well - they have our phone number and they find our tenants and issue the contracts for us (through their rentals department). I don't like the idea of invading someone's home with "inspections" but can now see they do have a point.

wowfudge Fri 17-Jul-15 16:06:39

You are not the bad guy though - your tenant is and is breaking the terms of the AST.

PosterEh Fri 17-Jul-15 16:10:52

I don't like doing inspections either. As a tenant I've had some awful ones where the agent expected it everything to be spotless - looking inside the oven and cupboards etc. It should just be a quick overview to check no repairs need carrying out and no permenant damage is being done. Some problems (small leaks for example) can cause a lot of damage and the tenant may not be as vigilant if not their property. Damaged neighbour relations can be a real issue too.

It probably wouldn't have helped in this situation though because he could have easily hid the dog.

mistymeanour Fri 17-Jul-15 17:01:43

I have phoned the tenant. He admits that there have been issues with the neighbours, he claims the dog barks because the neighbours above make a lot of noise banging the doors and play loud music late at night after getting back from clubbing and he has had to "have words with them" about their noise and so they have been vindictive.

He also says that no one told him about the no pets clause. I will have to check AST contract the agent who rented the flat for us gave him (I told the agent specifically no pets as I am allergic to animal dander and at the time was planning on moving in again after 3 years). The tenant claims he has been to CAB and that AST's cannot ban you from keeping a pet and that as he is paying rent he can do what he likes about who or what he chooses to have in flat. He says he was never told about the NO pets clause in the Lease (I don't think he was given a copy of this) .

I was very calm and nice, he was aggressive. He is not prepared to re home his pet. I told him that I would probably have to give him 2 months notice. He says he is going to stop paying rent and that I will have to evict him and he will fight it to the end.

I am going to phone the managing agent (who we pay large service charges to) when they open on Monday (they are shut on Fridays) to find out what has been going on and what they advise (and what the consequences for me are of breaching the lease).

LaurieFairyCake Fri 17-Jul-15 17:14:52

If you evict him will you lose much money? His deposit is protected and will come to you if he doesn't pay/have to evict?

mistymeanour Fri 17-Jul-15 17:18:27

I feel really sad about it. Where we rented last year ( a naice house in a naice area) we had inspections every three months where the agent was very haughty and ran her finger along surfaces such as the cooker hood and like PosterEh described checked the oven and cupboards and even poked in our wardrobes. It was absolutely horrid.The owners were abroad and the agent had not taken contingency funds for repairs so that when things broke like the dishwasher (broken on moving in) we had to fork out for the cost of a new one ourselves and as the agent put it "hope that the owners would reimburse us". They also cut up rough about the deposit (for no good reason)

I wanted to be a different kind of LL - all repairs to the flat have been carried out within 24 hours of report and I have let the tenant repaint rooms in colours he chose (flat was newly painted white) even though it would cost me money to repaint when he moves out and many other little things so that he could treat it as his home.

Not looking forward to eviction process and the costs. I'm not cut out for this.

lalalonglegs Fri 17-Jul-15 17:25:56

You need to look at the AST - usually there is a clause saying something along the lines of "No animals to be kept at the property without prior written agreement of the LL" so pets aren't actually banned (which is what the CAB is saying would be an unfair term) but the tenant needs permission so in this case there has been a breach. It would be quite unusual for a professionally-drawn up contract not to say something along those lines.

Given his attitude, I think you can safely assume his dog has been a nuisance. You may be able to issue a Section 8 notice which is theoretically quicker than Section 21 (straightforward two months' notice). If you have free legal advice as part of your insurance, now would be the time to use it...

mistymeanour Fri 17-Jul-15 17:50:29

Thanks lalalonglegs I will check the AST when I get back and my insurance.I had forgotten about the legal advice insuarnce policies usually provide.

specialsubject Fri 17-Jul-15 18:02:02

What lala says - clearly it would be unreasonable to ban a couple of goldfish or even a well behaved mammal, hence the legal clause is as mentioned.

BUT like it or not, tenancy agreements can't over-ride the legalities for the building. And no, paying rent does not allow him to do what he likes. Paying a mortgage doesn't mean you can make a nuisance of yourself to the neighbours. Buying a desert island is needed for that.

check your insurances because it looks like you are up for some expensive fun and games. You need legal expenses cover, rent guarantee and malicious damage insurance; all landlords should have those. Unfortunately being a decent landlord (as all should be) is no protection from a kick in the teeth.

make sure you are whiter than white on deposit protection and gas safe. He has breached the tenancy so that is grounds to break it, but get one thing wrong in the legals and you go back to square one.

you will get him out eventually but it is going to take time and lots of money, and I wouldn't hold your breath for the state of the place. Sorry.

PosterEh Fri 17-Jul-15 18:05:42

Well at least no worry about being the bad guy now, hey!

Sorry OP, sounds like you got a duff tenant. Hopefully he's all mouth and no trousers.

wowfudge Fri 17-Jul-15 18:23:47

It's a business letting out property and you need to detach and deal with it in a businesslike way.

Yes, you should have inspected in order to be able to nip problems in the bud, but providing you have fulfilled your legal obligations (his deposit is protected?) then focus on ending the tenancy and getting the place back. You do not want to jeopardise your lease.

But please, read the AST and ensure you are properly familiar with its terms - I would have done that before making the call in order to quote what it actually states if required.

Good luck OP - he's worried he's got to move and won't get a good reference from you so don't take what he says and does personally.

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