Agricultural Property – Hens & rabbits in residential properties
This article was published on: 1st September 2021Matt Pugh
There has been a lot of talk over the past 12 to 18 months regarding allowing pets in residential tenancies, with the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government’s model tenancy agreement being updated to allow pets in rented properties, and the Dogs and Domestic Animals (Accommodation and Protection) Bill currently making its way through Parliament (being “a Bill to establish rights to keep dogs and other animals in domestic accommodation; to make provision about the protection of the welfare of dogs and other domestic animals; and for connected purposes”).
When most people say ‘pets’, they are likely referring to dogs and cats, but it is a catch all term which varies from goldfish and hamsters to birds and snakes (and yes, we have seen most of these in properties over the years). It is therefore important that the tenancy agreement is clear what animals are and are not allowed, particular if neither party intends a true blanket ban on all animals. In addition, landlords of leasehold properties should review their own leases to see what might be prohibited by the freeholder.
However, there is a little known ‘loophole’ (albeit it a limited one) for those minded to keep hens and rabbits, contained within section 12 of the Allotments Act 1950, which says that:
“Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary in any lease or tenancy or in any covenant, contract or undertaking relating to the use to be made of any land, it shall be lawful for the occupier of any land to keep, otherwise than by way of trade or business, hens or rabbits in any place on the land and to erect or place and maintain such buildings or structures on the land as reasonably necessary for that purpose:
Provided that nothing in this subsection shall authorise any hens or rabbits to be kept in such a place or in such a manner as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance or affect the operation of any enactment”
Despite the name of the legislation, it does not appear as if the keeping of rabbits and hens is limited to allotments. In layman’s terms, therefore, tenants are seemingly allowed to hens and rabbits, including building suitable accommodation for them, regardless of what anything in the tenancy agreement says, as long as they are not used for business purposes and they are not a nuisance or pose any risk to health.
Whilst not many tenants will want to bring hens and/or rabbits into their rented home, this overlooked piece of legislation grants those that do the right.
We have frequently advised clients on residential landlord and tenant matters, so do not hesitate to contact us should you need any assistance.
Author: Philip Copley, Associate