Can a landlord in France prevent a tenant from keeping animals?
With the risk of damage to the property or nuisance to neighbours, landlords are sometimes unwilling to accept pets in a rental property.
Adverts in the press will sometimes state whether pets are permitted; in some cases they may specify than only certain types of animals will be accepted.
As a result, tenants with pets can find it difficult to find a suitable property.
In principle, however, a tenant has a legal right to keep pets and any clause in a tenancy agreement which stipulates that animals are not permitted in the property is null and void.
The law states: 'Est réputée non écrite, toute stipulation tendant à interdire la détention d’un animal dans un local d’habitation dans la mesure où elle concerne un animal familier.'
Nevertheless, a landlord is not without some protection, as the right to keep animals is subject to some constraints.
i. Domestic Animals - The first condition is that only domestic animals (animal familier) are permitted, so a tenant seeking to keep farm animals on the property would not have the legal protection granted by the law. The same applies to those who wish to breed animals on the property. In this respect the Code Rural states: 'on entend par élevage de chiens et de chats l’activité consistant à détenir des femelles reproductrice et donnant lieu à la vente d’au moins deux portées d’animaux par an.'
Just what is a 'animal familier' is, however, not specified clearly in law, so whether keeping a few chickens, a goat or a pig would constitute an infringement of the law could only be determined by the circumstances of the case.
The law is also silent on the number of pets that may be kept by the tenant, although if any occupier of a property has more than nine dogs then the consent of the public health authority is required. In such circumstances the property must be at least 100 metres from the nearest other property. Local regulations may also apply.
ii. Principal Residence - Secondly, only those tenants who occupy the property as their principal home retain the automatic right to keep a pet(s). Landlords of holiday accommodation can stipulate that pets are not permitted, although the agreement would need to make this clear.
iii. Nuisance - Thirdly, pets are only permitted on the understanding that they cause no damage to the property or a nuisance to neighbours. Accordingly, although there may be no statutory limitation on the number of pets a tenant may keep, if they cause a nuisance or damage to the property, enforcement action can be taken. There are also separate regulations governing exotic and protected animals.
iv. Dangerous Dogs - Finally, a landlord can refuse to accept dangerous attack dogs, even though the owner may have been granted a licence to keep the dog (for instance, due to their employment), although the agreement must make this clear. Dogs that currently to fall into this category are Staffordshire Terrier, Pit Bulls, Mastiff (Boerbulls) and Tosa.