The best friend of John Chadwick, who took his own life after being separated from his pets while being rehomed, is calling on landlords to be more accommodating when considering tenants with dogs and cats.

Dee Bonett has been campaigning for a change in the law since his death in 2017 and helped persuade Maidstone Council to allow homeless people to take pets with them into emergency accommodation.

In August, the borough went a step further by introducing a 12-month pilot scheme allowing those in emergency accommodation to refuse an offer of permanent accommodation if it doesn’t take pets.

And MP Andrew Rosindell mentioned John’s story in his speech in the Commons last week when launching the Dogs and Domestic Animals (Accommodation and Protection) Bill, which aims to give tenants the right to live with their pet – provided they can prove they are responsible and caring, with conditions including that owners pass the test of responsible ownership.

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Dogs and cat

John was evicted from his home in Maidstone after his landlord decided to sell the property, so had to give up his dogs Theo and Tinkerbell and cat Gizmo as he wasn’t able to take the pets into temporary accommodation at a bed and breakfast.

He was also told he wouldn’t be allowed to take them into permanent accommodation offered by the council. Ten days later John sent a text message to friends saying he no longer wished to be alive before taking his own life.

At the inquest, the coroner said the loss of his animals was a key factor in this decision.

Dee started a petition to encourage more positive pet policies on change.org in 2017 which has more than 17,000 signatures and hopes this Bill will encourage other local councils to study their policies on pets.

She tells LandlordZONE: “I know that not every landlord is an animal lover but there’s no evidence to suggest that pets cause more damage than children. I’m optimistic that this Bill will create change – I don’t want to see a tragedy like this happening again.”

The Bill gets its second reading on 29th January.

33 COMMENTS

    • How would you like to contribute to the cost of recarpeting my property? Twice in two years I had to completely recarpet it due to the tenants allowing their animals to destroy them. The last one allowed its cat to urinate so badly on the carpet nobody would work in there due to the stench of cat pee.

      • Hello Paul

        Sorry to hear of this. I realise not all Landlords have had positive experiences with Pets. I have worked in the Community for many years where people do not have Pets or Children and the state of such properties can be shocking! I have also been in properties where there are Pets and Children and its spotless.

        It is down to tenant responsibility… I am just merely raising awareness of the importance of Companion Animals since the tragic death of my Hun, John Chadwick. Take care.

        • Good for you Dee.
          I think the issue with pets in the private rental sector is part of something much bigger, in this country.
          In your friend’s case it seems security of tenure was also an issue, when his original home was sold.
          But you are trying to make a difference in one small way, so I wish you well.

          • Hello Peter thank you so much. Its a difficult platform of change, usually what comes of Tragedy is Change for others. Bless you xx

  1. Sorry for your loss but you need to blame the government and shelter for banning landlords fee’s which went some way towards any pet damage.
    I’ve been a landlord for 30yrs and a dog owner and my house and garden is immaculate.
    I’ve had 5 tenants with dogs/cats and EVERY ONE of them has caused excessive damage because the owners are irresponsible.
    I give these people a chance and they abuse it so no more.

    • Hello Chris thank you for your sentiments. As stated in the comments above I am merely wishing to raise awareness of the importance of Companion Animals and not every tenant is irresponsible, having worked in Housing related roles.

      My Platform of Change is also not to point blame, as this will not bring back my Hun. I realise also not all properties are suitable for Pets. I’m just wishing to raise awareness, particularly for those deemed as Vulnerable, Alone or Homeless. I do empathise for any Landlords who have had bad experiences also.

  2. This is a very sad story – but please don’t blame LLs, the story states it was the Council who refused to let him have the pets in his accommodation.

    New legislation should be made with a cool, clear head not as a knee jerk reaction to one very sad tale. Whilst being separated from your pets is difficult I would suggest there were other factors at work here that caused this man to take his own life.

    Like Chris above, I have allowed pets in my houses and suffered significant damage. Children often make paintwork dirty but they don’t generally chew woodwork, pee on the carpets and scratch glass!

    • It’s very sad that somebody took his life due to the prospect of being without his pets. I’m surprised the council didn’t allow pets. There was no mention of private landlords in the article. Many private landlords do allow pets and many don’t, and there are some very good reasons for refusing pets.
      As a landlord I would love to allow pets, but every single one has caused major problems that have cost me a considerable amount of time and money to clean up/ repair. I won’t regale you with the tales (no pun intended) of horror that I’ve been through – landlord zone has them all in the posts.
      I now charge extra for pets.

      • I think it’s fair enough to charge extra for pets.
        I charge a different rent depending on the tenant.
        If I think someone is higher risk, I charge a higher rent.
        If they are low risk (secure job, guarantor etc), I charge a low rent.
        Taking tenants with pets can make good business sense, if you can charge them more and they are less likely to leave.

      • i agree with you a lot of factors here i am a new private landlord so new to all this when i was looking for a tenant most had a dog or cat all said but he /she is small well behaved said no was called prejudice to animals its my house i get to say who or what comes in something tenants forget about

        • I’d guess that a lot of tenants lie to the landlord and bring their dog in without permission. Same for smoking.

          I always assume the worst and anything else is then a bonus.

          Some of the best tenants I’ve had, have been those that rented a property that was in a poor state of decoration. I offered them low rents and they ended up decorating the house themselves.

          As long as you tick the boxes to keep everything legal, that’s the most important thing.

          • Hello All

            Yes there were other factors involved. Most people are able to say they have not been Homeless in their lifetime. My Hun unfortunately became Homeless twice which impacted greatly on his overall well being. Unfortunately the Landlord during the 2nd period, wanted to sell the property my Hun had been residing in. He was placed in Bed and Breakfast Accommodation by our Local Council, and after 10 days of being seperated from his Pets, his Lifeline, he took his own life. I

            I’m merely wishing to keep his memory alive to make change for those who are particularly Vulnerable, Alone or Homeless, so this Tragedy does not happen again. There is no easy fix, but those who do rely on Companion Animals as their lifelines, I hope no one finds themselves in such a vulnerable situation…

  3. Sadly, I have witnessed similar circumstances to this.
    One guy I was in the army with years ago. He left after four years and did various labouring jobs. He ended up living in a HMO when he was in his late 40s. Thankfully, he was not suicidal, but he did tell me he hated living in the HMO.
    This is the demographic I see begging on the streets now. Guys in their late 40s. I was in school with some of them. Probably drugs and / or alcohol is often an issue. But for the guys one step above that, living in rented HMO type accommodation, I can imagine they would hate to give up their pets.
    Personally, I think something has changed in this country when men like this are on the lowest rung of the ladder.

    • It is very sad. I understand that 80% of suicides are men. The fact that it seems men in society are generally under far more than women seems to go unnoticed to those fighting for the rights of a specific gender only rather than all genders.

      • In my experience, the women tend to end up in a social housing house, with their kids.

        The men end up in a HMO with other single guys.

        I’ve never known a lower class woman end up in a HMO. Not one in her 40s anyway.

        All my HMO tenants are single men. I wouldn’t let a room to a woman.

  4. This is a tragic case and a terrible outcome for the gentleman involved. However as others have pointed out, it is not private landlords at fault here – in this particular case it was a Council. More generally, i.e. for other tenants who wish to own pets, the government’s Tenant Fees Act 2019 precludes landlords from charging specific pet deposits or general deposits more then 5 weeks’ rent. As evident from the stories above, the risk for PRS landlords in allowing pets is just too much. I am sure many PRS landlords (including me – a dog owner) would reconsider pets if they knew they were able to recover their costs. If the new government bill does go through, many landlords will sell up (including me). Landlords cannot keep absorbing the increasing costs and risks involved in letting, as the government’s constant meddling in the sector means the pendulum has swing too far in favour of tenants at Landlords’ expense.

    • In this case, the article does not say whether this man was offered a flat or a house by the council.
      I don’t think dogs have ever been officially permitted in council flats (although it has happened).
      The sheltered housing for old folk often has a policy whereby existing pets can be allowed, but not replaced once the original one dies.

  5. In the past I used to welcome tenants with pets. Unfortunately though for tenants, Shelter & their ilk got their way & got the government to ban tenant fees & limit deposit size so now I cannot afford to accept pets. I suggest that the govt should be petitioned to reverse their previous decisions re fees & deposits to enable me to allow pets once again.

  6. Other landlords have already pointed out the tenant fees act so I won’t dwell on that. They’ve also explained their experiences with pets. I’ve had the same, dog destroyed kitchen, dog pulled up and destroyed carpets, dog urine everywhere, cats scratching carpets up and wall paper, flees etc etc. However it’s not just animals that cause these problems it’s also “human” animals. I had a tenant who used the corner of the bedroom as a toilet for months when he was drunk. The Joy’s of being a landlord.

    I wanted to add a different dimension. I have two current tenants who have children with Asthma, both are violently allergic to pets. This also means they are allergic to anything an animal has slept on, laid on or even brushed up against. This effect last for months maybe even years. They both said finding a completely guaranteed pet free house was a nightmare. One had to move quickly again as it turned out a pet had been in the house unknown to the landlord. 5.4 million people in the UK suffer from Asthma one in ten people in the UK are allergic to dogs.

    Not everyone loves pets, not everyone wants to live in a house after a pet and guess what a lot of these people are tenants.

    I now concentrate on this demographic. They make superb tenants. The houses are vacuumed and cleaned to within an inch of their lives. Windows are open for fresh air so no bloody mould unlike the morons that hermetically seal the house then dry washing on radiators. And guess what they are long term tenants.

    Time to get the balance back in this argument.

    • I’ve never had a tenant urinate (or defecate) in any of my properties. Not as far as I know anyway. That sounds like some kind of mental health problem to me.
      Most of my tenants smoke. They also tend to bring bikes into the houses and spill beer and oil all over the place. They often lose their keys and need to kick the doors in. Or a burglar will break in to steal their stuff.

      I just leave them to it. They generally sort it out themselves.
      I think a lot depends on the type of tenants you get.

      Personally, I don’t think a dog would make much difference, but my tenants don’t generally want dogs.

  7. I have no objection to pets, being a dog owner myself but one tenant asked if she could get a rescue dog from Spain. I refused this as this property is a flat with no personal outside space for a dog and is on second floor. If the situation was suitable for a dog, I would willingly agree but the circumstances MUST be suitable for the animal, not just the tenant as anything else would be animal cruelty.

  8. Some properties are suitable for pets, others aren’t. I allow dogs in some of mine but in others they would be a complete non starter. Several of my tenants complain about their neighbours dogs barking and whining all day while their owners are at work. Imagine living in a street where half the properties have dogs howling all day.
    I have one property where my first set of tenants had a dog. Now I will only let it to people with dogs because I just can’t fully get rid of the doggy smell. It’s embarrassing to show it to non dog owners. Lovely flat, great location but as a non pet owner I am incredibly conscious of the doggy aroma.

    Another tenant had anxiety issues and got herself an emotional support rabbit. Problem was she was too anxious or depressed to look after it and expected her housemates to take care of it for her. Totally unfair to both housemates and rabbit.

    • I’d be more concerned about having a tenant with anxiety or depression.
      Did you end up filling in all her benefits forms for her?

  9. Totally get the relationship between humans and their pets, when this poor gentleman took his life his pets already had their lives taken from them.

    • This man would probably have been better off on one of the numerous old mid terraced houses, that are being abandoned. Some have reasonable back gardens and are suitable for dogs. The government could buy these terraced streets in northern England and let them out as social housing.

      There is a problem in this country, with too many people being crowded into the SE of England. Too many high rise flats. Not a natural way for humans to live. Crazy situation.

    • Theo, Tinkerbell and their feline best friend Gizmo adored my Hun as much as he did them. My memories would not do this justice if I attempted to describe…

  10. Hello All

    Yes there were other factors involved. Most people are able to say they have not been Homeless in their lifetime. My Hun unfortunately became Homeless twice which impacted greatly on his overall well being. Unfortunately the Landlord during the 2nd period, wanted to sell the property my Hun had been residing in. He was placed in Bed and Breakfast Accommodation by our Local Council, and after 10 days of being seperated from his Pets, his Lifeline, he took his own life. I

    I’m merely wishing to keep his memory alive to make change for those who are particularly Vulnerable, Alone or Homeless, so this Tragedy does not happen again. There is no easy fix, but those who do rely on Companion Animals as their lifelines, I hope no one finds themselves in such a vulnerable situation…

    • The landlord could have sold your friend’s original home, without evicting him. The property could have been sold to another landlord. The tenancy could have remained in place. This is also part of the problem the MPs should look at.

  11. Hello Everyone

    I’ve attempted to reply to as many as I can. This isn’t easy so thought I would just post another comment for all.

    Thank you for anyone who has written sentiments regarding my Huns tragic death. I am grateful to Landlord Zone for assisting in raising further awareness and with keeping my Huns memory alive.

    I really hope that when I say I am sorry to read those who have had bad experiences with their tenants and pets, I do truly mean so. I have also worked in Housing related roles in the Community where the state of some properties have been shocking where there are no Pets or Children and when there are so. Also I have been in properties where there are both Pets and Children and they are spotless.

    This Platform of Change I have found myself has not been easy. Was I aware that to some Companion Animals were indeed lifelines? No never, not before my Huns Tragedy. It only took 10 days from being seperated from them, before he took his life. Most people can say they have not been homeless in their lifetime. My Hun became so twice. The last time due to the landlord wishing to sell the property. That was it.

    I’m not sure how we have got to this stage of No Pets, considering we are supposed to be a Nation of Animals. For anyone who has had a negative experience, there are those who have had Positive ones, as those tenants will be aware how difficult it is to secure housing with the their Pets.

    There is no easy fix, some properties will be unsuitable for Pets also. Please do look at the links in the article, at some of the outcomes I have had. I also am aware some Landlords are not pet lovers either. That’s OK too.

    Maidstone Borough Council and the Communities, Housing and Environment Committee have been working with me on this. They did not think either that this Tragedy would have happened. I’m merely trying to find a balance for all. Just because someone cannot afford their own home, they should not be penalised with not having a Pet.

    And yes the comment written here regarding other factors played an impact is not far from the truth. But, my Huns Pets, his babies, were indeed the difference between his life and death….

    I wish you all well here and will keep reading the comments, to give me more of an insight from both sides. I am truly the least political person there is….. My Campaign is from a place of love, not anger.

    My email is below, should anyone wish to contact. Take care, Dee

    dee.bonett@live.co.uk

  12. I know some landlords will argue that changing the law to more secure tenancies, will reduce the value of rental properties.

    This is true, but the reduced price will likely be for both buyers and sellers.
    So if a landlord decides to invest in a rental property, he buys a property with secure tenants in place. He will buy that house at a lower price than if he were buying one with vacant possession. When he sells the property, he will likely still get a lower price than were it vacant, but that doesn’t mean that he will have lost money. It creates a separate asset class.

    These Assured Tenancies already exist. The problem was the introduction of the AST. That is what has lead to tenants lacking security and that’s why this issue about pets has arisen.

    Essentially, the AST has attracted the wrong type of people into property investing. Direct ownership of investment property is not suitable for the general public. It’s a specialist business area. If the general public want to invest in property, they should do so via REITs.

    The government created this problem, now they need to fix it.

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