Pets in your tenancy – What are the rules in Denmark?

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Most of us are fond of pets – especially dogs and cats. Many are often in doubt whether pets are allowed or not, and what the rules are regarding pets. We have written up a complete guide to help you with the rules on this topic.

What does “pets not allowed” actually mean?

In many tenancies, “pets are not allowed” and landlords do not hold back in terms of making tenants aware of this – but what does it actually mean that pets are not allowed? The rules about pets are regulated by the lease and the house rules for the property.

In §10 of the lease, you can see if you can have pets. If it says yes, you are generally and justifiably allowed to keep pets as you wish, but always make sure to check §11 of the lease as well. Your landlord can also state any rules about pets here, which is why you should always check both §10 and 11.

In § 11 of the lease, the following can be regulated:

  • Which types of pets are allowed
  • If it for example only is allowed to keep small dog breeds
  • How many pets are allowed

Pro tip

Not too long ago, a surprising court ruling was made. It gave a tenant permission to have a dog, even though it was stated in the lease that she could not. You can read the ruling at the end of this article.

What is understood as a pet?

Usually, it is dogs and cats that we keep as pets and they are typically also what we define as pets. This means bigger animals that walk around freely in the tenancy.

When it states in the lease that pets are not allowed, it will usually entail larger pets that walk freely around the tenancy, i.e. dogs and cats. Many also hold birds, fish, rabbits and other smaller animals as pets, which has added to the doubt about what defines a pet. As a rule, these animals are categorized as small pets and do not fall under the same category of pets as dogs and cats. It must, therefore, be specified in §11 that small animals like the ones above are not allowed for it to be valid. It can also be mentioned in the house rules so make sure to check there too.

A prohibition against holding pets is not equal to a prohibition against small animals

We always recommend that you talk to your landlord if you are thinking about getting a small pet and there is a prohibition against pets in your tenancy. Firstly, it shows good character and secondly, many landlords are also okay with it as it concerns another type of animal.

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Pets allowed – is it the lease or the house rules that apply?

The lease always outranks the house rules. This means that, as a rule of thumb, it is always your lease you must comply with. However, the lease and the house rules usually express the same rights and obligations.

The lease is the agreement between tenant and landlord where a significant change (less rights or more obligations) will require a new lease or an attachment to the current lease that both tenant and landlord must sign.

The house rules are the landlord’s regulations for the property. This can, for example, contain rules about noise in the building, use of washing machines, etc. The house rules can change the circumstances forward-looking also in terms of allowing pets or not (it can only apply forward-looking and never retrospectively). This means that if the house rules forbid pets in the tenancy, it will only apply forward-looking. It is important to know that if you have acquired a pet and was allowed to at that time, it cannot be taken away if the house rules change. It is only if your current pet passes away that you might not have a right to acquire a new pet.

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No pets allowed – can a pet come and visit?

Despite it stating in your lease that it is forbidden to have pets, it does not mean that a pet cannot visit you. This means that a friend or a family member can bring a dog over, when they visit you. A prohibition against pets is not seen as the same thing as a visitation prohibition.

The following must, however, be noted:

  • 11 of the lease or the house rules can still prohibit this

If it is specified in the lease or the housing rules that not even visitation from pets is allowed, it is a total ban.

  • Frequent visitation from pets

Frequent visits from the same pet (or trying to get around the rules) can bring along the same consequences as if you own the pet. It is a concrete assessment whether it is considered that the tenant is actually keeping a pet.

“Can my landlord charge fees because I have a pet?”

The answer is very simple: No, this is not allowed.

If a landlord wants to charge any fees, due to a tenant owning a pet, there must be a warrant according to the Rent Act. As it does not state anywhere in the Rent Act that landlords can charge any fees due to tenants owning pets, there is no warrant and therefore it is illegal. We see a lot of tenants who pay e.g. 100 kroner extra each month, in order for the tenant to have a pet as the landlord might have slightly more maintenance. Despite this, it does not make it anymore legal to charge this extra fee, but unfortunately it is quite common.

Remember that there is no need to worry if your landlord changes the house rules in order to prohibit pets. Such prohibition will not affect the tenants that have pets already. These pets can stay in the tenancy until they pass away. However, you will probably not be able to acquire a new pet, as the landlord is most likely in their good right to implement a general prohibition in the house rules for the future. It must, however, be noted that a new set of house rules cannot overrule the agreements in your lease. If it is stated in your lease – or in an attachment to your lease – that you can have pets, this will not change even if your landlord implements a general prohibition against pets in the house rules. In such instances, you are free to buy a new pet if the old one passes away.

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What does the Rent Act state about pets?

In the Rent Act, it is not regulated whether it is permitted to keep pets or not, which is considered to be very fair, as it would, otherwise, be extremely radical if the Rent Act was to determine if the landlords can permit pets in their properties.

However, there are still a number of paragraphs that are relevant for you as a tenant.

Pro tip

You often come a long way by asking – this is meant in the way that even if it is stated in the lease or housing rules that pets are not permitted, it is always worth asking. You might just get a yes and at worst a no.

The Housing Control Act

In §5, subsection 9 of the Housing Control Act it is stated that as a tenant you cannot be subject to conditions that are more burdensome than the conditions that apply to the other tenants in the property. A burdensome condition is a legal term used to describe a condition that harms a party (a person).

This means that a landlord, who rents out multiple tenancies in the same building that compared to what the tenant in questions rents (e.g. condition and maintenance), cannot allow one tenant to have pets and deny the other tenant the same right. Read more about this under the heading “Can there be different rules regarding pets in the same property?

The Rent Act

In §79, subsection 2 of the Rent Act it appears that if a tenant keeps a pet against the regulations in the lease or the house rules (even with no annoyance to the other tenants) it can lead to the tenancy becoming conditional or receiving a warning that can lead to a termination or eviction.

In order for a tenant to be evicted or terminated due to disregarding good manners, the tenant must continue disregarding the rules despite the warning from the landlord. According to §94, subsection 2, the landlord must give a warning and await to see if the tenant continues the same behavior. The landlord cannot terminate the lease due to the breach of the agreement if the tenant chooses to abide by the rules in time. In this case, it would be to get rid of the pet.

Can there be different rules regarding pets in the same property?

Different landlords, different rules

Firstly, we want to make it clear that landlords themselves determine whether it is permitted to have pets or not. Therefore, in a building with different landlords, it can be permitted to have pets in one tenancy and not in another. This is because it is up to the specific landlord to decide what applies in the tenancies they own. Maybe one landlord grew up with pets and wants to allow others to do so too, whereas another landlord might be completely opposite and not want any pets in the tenancy.

Same landlord, different rules

Several times, we have gotten the question “can my landlord make different rules about pets?” – and the answer is yes. The landlord’s tenancies do not need to be subject to the same rules as the circumstances can be different: In one tenancy it might have been permitted for a long time and the landlord chooses to keep allowing it, whereas another tenancy might have been newly renovated so that the landlord does not wish to have pets there. However, as we have mentioned before, if the tenancies can be deemed very similar, the landlord cannot forbid one tenant the right and permit another tenant to have pets.

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What can my landlord do if I get a pet even though it is not permitted?

By keeping a pet without permission, you put both yourself and your landlord in a difficult situation, as you are disregarding the rules. If your landlord finds out that you are not complying with the rules in your lease regarding pets, you will most likely receive a warning. If you do not comply with this warning, your landlord has the right to terminate or evict you. Se the section called “What does the Rent Act state about pets”.

So, does this actually also apply in practice? Over time, it has become more ambiguous. Read an example of case law below.

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Ruling about pets – was not allowed but the Housing Court accepted it

In the city court in Copenhagen, a ruling was made on 9th March 2018 that interpreted the law significantly gentler than previously presumed.

The landlord had written in §10 of the lease that pets were not allowed, which the tenant did not comply with and had a dog. The landlord warned the tenant several times after which the landlord chose to terminate the tenant. The tenant protested against the termination and the case got sent to the Rent Assessment Committee. Both the Rent Assessment Committee and the Housing Court ruled in favor of the tenant. The reason being that the dog was not in any way an annoyance for the other tenants in the property and no one had complained about the dog.

The female tenant had chosen to keep a dog despite it not being allowed. After several warnings to get rid of the dog in order to stay in the apartment and a termination from the landlord, the tenant took the case to the Rent Assessment Committee that ruled in her favor. The case then went on to the Housing Court that determined that she had kept a dog in accordance to the Rent Act. However, as the dog, according to the court, was not of significant annoyance for the neighbors, she was acquitted. She was, therefore, allowed to stay in the apartment with her dog. This ruling is therefore an expression of a much gentler approach compared to how the Rent Act would typically be interpreted. It pushed the boundaries of when tenants can be terminated if they do not comply with the rules about pets.

Get legal advice and avoid being deceived

This topic can be very complicated as a tenant. The above is to be seen as a general guidance and not as downright legal advice. We always recommend that you contact us to ensure that you get the proper necessary legal advice that is relevant for your specific case.

You can get help with this topic but also any other matters you may have. Unfortunately, we see many tenants that are being deceived. Often, they miss out on a lot of money – anything from a couple thousands to 30-40,000 kroner. Imagine what else you could spend the money on.

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