Paws {sic} for Thought – Pet Covenants in Leases

In the matter of Victory Place Management Company Limited v (1) Forian Kuehn (2) Gabrielle Kuehn [2018] EWHC 132 Ch, the High Court upheld an injunction requiring a couple to remove their dog from their flat.

Mr & Mrs Kuehn purchased a flat in a gated residential development in Limehouse. The management company, (VPMC) comprised of an elected board of directors who were themselves leaseholders.

Each lease on the development contained a clause that “No dog bird cat or other animal or reptile shall be kept in the [property] without the written consent of [VPMC]”. The management company also had a strict “no pet” policy.

Mr & Mrs Kuehn owned a 5 year old Yorkshire/Maltese terrier cross called Vinnie. They applied for consent however, VPMC refused consent. Mr & Mrs Kuehn moved into the flat with their dog following refurbishment works and VPMC obtained an injunction for the dog’s removal.

VPMC argued that their decision was reasonable as although they adopted a strict “no pet” policy, they were willing to consider Mr & Mrs Kuehn’s application if they could provide evidence of special circumstances.

Mr & Mrs Kuehn argued that the “Wednesbury Reasonableness” test (established in Associated Provincial Picture Homes Ltd v Wednesbury Corporation [1948] 1 KB 223), should be adopted to consider whether VPMC’s decision was reasonable. The two limb test concerns rationality and rationality of outcome.

It was held on appeal that there was a rational process followed by VPMC as although they had a strict “no pet policy” they were prepared to consider special circumstances. As Mr & Mrs Kuehn had not provided evidence of special circumstances, VPMC had acted reasonably in refusing consent.

The lesson to leaseholders is, don’t assume consent will be granted for your pets or that the pet covenants in your lease wont be enforced.

It is common for a lease to be silent on this point, contain a restriction against keeping pets entirely or allow pets with the prior written consent of the Landlord. If prior written consent is granted,  a leaseholder should be aware that such consent can be revoked at any time.

If you are purchasing a flat and have a pet or intend to own one in the future, highlight this to your solicitor at the start of the transaction.

If you have any queries regarding lease covenants, please contact Varsha Varsani on 0207 703 5034 or at vvarsani@meaby.co.uk.

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