For the Love of Darcie: recognising the human-companion animal relationship in housing law and policy

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This paper identifies the law’s failure to recognise and protect the human-companion animal relationship in the housing arena. The nature of the human-companion animal relationship has striking similarities to human-human relationships in the socially supportive aspects of the relationship such as attachment, nurturance and reliable alliance. This contributes to the social life and sense of well-being of the owner. There is also evidence that the human-companion animal relationship can have physical health benefits such as lowering the risk of death by cardiovascular disease. It is clear that society benefits from the human-companion animal relationship, which many owners perceive as akin to family, in the form of healthier, less isolated people with better social networks. Yet in the key area of housing, the law does nothing to protect or even recognise this relationship. In consequence, every year thousands of tenants in both the public and private sector are faced with ‘no pet’ covenants in their leases and grapple with difficulties such as reduced housing options, higher rents or the traumatic decision to give up their companion animal for rehoming or euthanasia. This is especially prevalent amongst vulnerable people, like the elderly and mentally ill, who are more likely to need to move into supported accommodation. This article examines housing law in countries, such as France and Canada, that prohibit ‘no pet’ covenants in residential leases and provides arguments for the effective formulation and implementation of such law in the UK.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-46
JournalLiverpool Law Review
Issue number1-2
Early online date17 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


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