Pets Policy

VERSION NUMBER                         1.5

1.    Purpose

This policy sets out Genesis’ approach to dealing with pets. The policy recognises both the positive effect pet ownership can have on the general health and well-being of individuals, but also the nuisance pets can cause if not managed appropriately.

The main objectives of this policy are to ensure that:

  • pets are kept in line with the occupancy agreement
  • responsible pet ownership is supported
  • complaints about nuisance are dealt with efficiently and effectively
  • advice and support is offered to customers where rehoming the pet is the most appropriate option
  • all Genesis customers are treated in a fair and equitable way.

2.    Definitions

Pet nuisance: This includes, but is not limited to:

  • roaming and unattended animals
  • fouling in communal areas and gardens and not being cleaned up immediately
  • excessive noise, e.g. barking
  • unpleasant odours emanating from a property
  • aggressive animals.

3.    Permitted pets

We permit customers to keep pets in accordance with the conditions set out in their occupancy agreement. In all circumstances, the customer must have written permission to keep the pet(s).

Cats, small caged animals, caged birds, fish and reptiles in tanks may be kept in line with the terms of the occupancy agreement. Permission may be granted for a maximum of two pets.

A dog may be kept in a house or flat/maisonette only if a property has a private garden and its own separate entrance, and only with our permission.

If a cat is kept in a house or flat/maisonette without easy access to a garden or without its own entrance, it must remain in the owner’s premises at all times.

Where a customer chooses to have a permitted pet, they must fulfil the following conditions.

  • All animals must be kept in proper care and control and must not cause a nuisance to other customers
  • Animals must not be allowed to foul in public or communal areas. Any fouling must be cleared up immediately by the pet’s owner
  • Animals must not damage Genesis property
  • Dogs must be kept on a lead in communal areas and must not enter children’s play areas.

The following activities are not permitted under any circumstances:

  • Keeping livestock, wild animals, poisonous, or endangered species
  • Keeping dogs classified as dangerous under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991
  • Running a business such as breeding animals, or operating boarding kennels from a Genesis property

In exceptional circumstances, we may allow a customer to keep a dog where they do not meet the criteria, or more than one dog, at our discretion.

4.    Complaints about pets

Complaints about pets fall into two categories.

  • Complaints about pets being kept where they are not permitted, for example, keeping a dog without a private entrance or garden.
  • Complaints about nuisance being caused by the pet.

Both of these complaints constitute a breach of tenancy.

On receiving a complaint about an animal kept without permission, we will investigate. If the complaint is upheld, we will ask the customer to re-home the pet within 14 days. We will provide advice on rehoming through referrals to relevant organisations such as the RSPCA and other local animal shelters and charities.

If the customer fails to re-home the pet, we may take legal action to resolve the issue.

Where a complaint is made about a pet causing a nuisance, we investigate the complaint in line with our anti-social behaviour procedure. In the majority of cases, we aim to resolve the situation informally and by agreement. Where this is not possible we will consider a range of options for resolving the problem including:

  • withdrawing permission to keep the animal
  • restricting the number of animals
  • liaising with the local authority’s Environmental Health department and/or Dog Warden making responsible pet ownership part of an Acceptable Behaviour Contract
  • making responsible pet ownership part of a good neighbour agreement
  • serving an injunction to oblige the owner to start or stop taking certain actions, or to remove the animal
  • terminating the tenancy and taking possession proceedings where tenancy conditions are breached.

All instances of animal cruelty will be reported to the RSPCA.

Any complaint received regarding a suspected banned breed of dog under the Dangerous Dogs Act will be reported to the local Safer Neighbourhoods Team who can arrange for the dog to be identified.

Where the nuisance has caused threat or injury to a member of staff, the staff member records the incident using the internal incident reporting procedure.

5.    Other information

Assistance animals

Assistance animals are specially trained animals to assist individuals with disabilities. Assistance animals – primarily dogs, such as guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for the deaf, or dogs for the disabled - will always be permitted. The Equality Act 2010 prohibits anyone renting or selling a property from discriminating against a disabled person: this includes discriminating against a person with an assistance animal.

Pet-free areas

Certain estates, blocks of flats or specific types of accommodation may be designated as pet-free.

This information will be made clear to customers, particularly during the viewing and sign-up process.

Leaseholders, shared owners, freeholders

Leaseholders, freeholders and shared owners have different rights to own pets, which are governed by the lease agreement.

Supported housing

Genesis recognises the benefits that pets can bring to customers in supported housing. In addition to the accommodation being suitable for the pet in question, the customer should also be able to demonstrate that appropriate arrangements are in place to care for the pet should they become ill or hospitalised.

However, not all supported accommodation is suitable for pets. Permission whether to grant permission for dogs and other pets will be at the local manager’s discretion and in accordance with the occupancy agreement.

Animal hoarding

Animal hoarding means keeping large numbers of animals without having the ability to properly care for them. Where customers are found to be hoarding animals, we will involve all relevant agencies such as Social Services and the RSPCA as appropriate.

Cat flaps

Permission to install a cat flap will not be granted if it compromises the fire safety or security of the door. Staff should refer to the property improvements policy for more guidance.

Identification

Dogs must by law wear a collar with their owner’s name and address on it when in a public place. Cats should also wear a collar to enable them to be identified. Microchipping should also be encouraged through communication of its benefits, and referrals to local vets. From 6 April 2016 all dogs in England, Scotland and Wales will be legally required to be microchipped and their details registered on an authorised database.

Vaccination

All pets must be vaccinated and regularly treated for fleas and worms. Tenants may be required to provide evidence of this from their veterinary surgeon.

6.    Diversity and inclusion

A Diversity and Inclusion Assessment has been completed as part of this policy review and a copy is available on request. To request a copy please contact us at policy@genesisha.org.uk or for further information on our commitment to equality and diversity at Genesis please visit our website.

7.    Related internal documents

  • Dealing with requests to keep a pet procedure
  • Anti-social behaviour policy
  • Property improvements for tenants and leaseholders policy
  • Occupancy agreements

8.    Legislation, regulation and guidance

  • Allotment Act 1950: This Act makes it lawful for the occupier of any land to keep hens or rabbits, regardless of any restrictions in an occupancy agreement, as long as this does not constitute a health and safety concern.
  • Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 s.3: This act makes it an offence for any dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place. ‘Dangerously out of control’ is defined as behaviour that could injure someone. This act makes it an offence to keep a Pit Bull Terrier, a Japanese Tosa, a Dogo Argentino or a Fila Braziliero without a Certificate of Exemption. These dogs must also be muzzled on a lead and in the charge of someone over 16.
  • Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005: Under this Act, failure to clean up after a dog is an offence subject to a level 3 fine. Many local authority environmental health department officials issue on-the-spot penalty notices to deal with dog fouling.
  • Animal Welfare Act 2006: This Act places a duty of care on pet owners to provide for their animal’s basic needs. These include the need for a suitable environment; a suitable diet; to exhibit normal behaviour patterns; and to be protected from pain, injury, suffering and disease.
  • Equality Act 2010: makes it an offence for anyone renting or selling a property to discriminate against a disabled person.: this includes discriminating against a person with an assistance animal.
  • Anti-social behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014: This act amends parts of the Dangerous Dogs Act as follows:
  1. The Act now also covers incidents on private property in addition to public spaces. This includes customers own homes and both front and back gardens.
  2. It will now be an offence for a dog to attack an assistance dog (Guide Dog, Hearing Dog etc).
  3. Prison sentences will be increased for those convicted of some offences
  4. Police or an appointed local authority now have powers to seize a dangerously out of control dog in a private place. The existing legislation already covers public places.
  • The Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2015: Makes the microchipping of dogs in England, Scotland and Wales compulsory.

9.    Further reading

  • RSPCA - ‘Housing: Good Practice Guide’.
  • The Dog’s Trust - ‘Renting to Pet Owners’
  • Department of Communities and Local Government (March 2010) - ‘Tackling Anti-social behaviour’.
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