I am the Chairman, of a Residents Association that manages a 17 apartment, 6 floor, leasehold block, with a share of the freehold.
One of the lessees wants to have a Labrador dog and has asked for my opinion.
The lease, common to all, has a paragraph which relates to dogs which doesn’t appear to forbid dogs nor does it allow them:
‘Not to keep or allow to be kept any bird dog or other animal in or upon the said flat or garage which may cause damage nuisance or annoyance to the lessees or other occupiers of any other flats on the estate or to which an objection shall be notified by the company’
The flat concerned is unique in the block as it is on the ground floor, has its own front door, with no access to common areas, and has direct access to the garden and a public path beyond. The dog we are assured is an extensively trained animal which won’t be allowed to run free in the garden but taken for walks with its owner and on a lead.
I don’t see how the association can forbid ownership of the dog or give unconditional consent either.
Most of the lessees get along with one another and I’m inclined, in this case, not to object, even if I could. This wouldn’t be the case if another lessee, on an upper floor and accessed through common areas, decided to have a dog without the assurances that this neighbour is giving.
The clause in your flat leases is particularly unhelpful in that it says rather a lot and at the same time, nothing much whatsoever.
I acknowledge that I have not read your flat leases and the specifics of this scenario will be less relevant, if the leases have any provisions about all the leases being on substantially the same terms and / or mutual adherence to specific clauses.
First, there is no prohibition on the keeping of fish or insects because neither of these are animals.
Second, it is prohibited to keep any bird, dog or other animal which may cause damage, nuisance or annoyance to the lessees or other occupiers of any other flats on the estate. While damage can be established objectively, it is a matter of personal opinion, whether or not a bird, dog or other animal causes a nuisance or annoyance.
Third, it is prohibited to keep any bird, dog or other animal to which an objection has been notified by the company and because I have not read your leases, I don’t know whether ‘the company’ is a reference to the freehold company, a management company or your Residents’ Association.
If a dog may cause damage, nuisance or annoyance to the lessees or occupiers of any other flats on the estate, then the leaseholder cannot keep a dog in the flat or garage. According to a 2014 YouGov poll, 14% of people are afraid of dogs and while that is low compared to the 42% of people who have a fear of snakes, it is not insignificant when you consider you are more likely to encounter a dog than you are a snake. Statistically, this means, at least 2.24 lessees or occupiers (assuming each of the remaining 16 flats has only 1 lessee or occupier) will find the dog to be a nuisance or annoyance and that is before you ask lessees and occupiers about the dog’s barking, something that could reasonably be said to deny one or more lessee or occupier their right to peaceful enjoyment of their demise.
To allow this request would be to open a can of proverbial worms and those animals would definitely cause a nuisance or annoyance!
Shmuli Simon, Director of Legal Services at Integrity – Block Management and Leasehold Law