It is not uncommon for a tenancy agreement to stipulate that pets are not allowed to be kept at the property without the permission of the landlord or agent. Furthermore, a clause stipulating that smoking is not permitted within the property is also usually contained in standard tenancy agreements.
Many disputes arise at the end of a tenancy when a tenant has kept pets at a property and there is evidence of smoking at a property and where cleaning and or remedial works are required to return a property to its pre-tenancy state, allowing for fair wear and tear of course.
Where a landlord seeks to recover monies from a deposit, the burden of proof is on the landlord or agent to show, on balance, that the tenant has breached a term of the tenancy agreement and/or has breached their statutory obligations) and that the landlord has suffered a loss.
Consequently, and further to my blogs on redecoration, damage, and cleaning, the importance of good check-in or inventory and check-out reports is critical in determining whether or not a tenant has breached his/her obligations and whether the condition and cleanliness of the property have deteriorated as a result.
It is for the landlord to show that the tenant has breached their obligations and that the landlord has suffered a cost or loss as a result.
Even where an adjudicator makes a determination that a tenant has breached his/her legal obligations, however, an allowance will, usually, be made for the condition and/or cleanliness of the property at the start of the tenancy when making an award for cleaning, damage, and/or redecoration.
This means that even if a carpet has been damaged due to pets or smoking, a full award for carpet replacement would not be reasonable if the carpet, for example, could have been repaired and/or was not new or had pre-existing issues at the start of a tenancy.
Pets in rented homes
An exception would be, however, where a check-out report shows, for example, that the carpets have an odour of pets or smoking and where the carpets were not clean in the check-in report or inventory – but had no notable odour – at the start of a tenancy. In such a circumstance, it may be reasonable for an adjudicator to make a full award for a carpet clean as in order to remove the odour, the only suitable remedy would be a full carpet clean, as if the carpet had been damaged, thereby reflecting the cost of the ‘repair’.
It is further not uncommon for tenancy agreements to contain an additional clause/specially negotiated clause, which was agreed at the start of the tenancy, whereby a tenant is allowed to keep pets at the property having received permission from the landlord or letting agent. Many such clauses commonly include a reciprocal obligation on the tenant to have the property professionally cleaned at the end of the tenancy.
If a tenant keeps pets and fails to have a property professionally cleaned at the end of the tenancy and has agreed to such an additional, specifically negotiated clause, it may again be reasonable for an adjudicator to make a full award for a professional clean (whether or not the property was fully clean at the start of the tenancy.
John Bolton, Adjudicator