General Prohibition of Pets in an Apartment

The BGH had to decide if the landlord may deny keeping pets in an apartment (re VIII ZR 340/06). A landlord wanted to generally forbid any tenant from having a pet in the apartment.


In the reported case, the tenant used a standard contract determining that to keep other pets than small birds or fish, generally the approval of the landlord was required. The tenant, however, wanted to keep his two short-haired cats. So the dweller asked for permission but it was denied. The Federal Court of Justice considered the stipulation in dispute as null and void. It unreasonably disadvantages the tenant because this contractual exception is only applicable to small birds and fish but not other small pets as guinea pigs or turtles, which also can be kept in closed containers.

Whenever proprietors want to prohibit animals in their building then they must use a clear rule. If this rule is missing, then the interests of landlord and tenant as well as other dwellers in the house must be carefully weighed against another. This decision cannot be made once and for all but must relate to the individual situation. In the opinion of Bundesgerichtshof, a general prohibition of small pets in apartments without a factual reason for such ban can be generally invalid. Keeping small pets belongs to the not only typical but also contractual use of an apartment. Unfortunately, the court did not explicitly decide this question. However, the tendency is clear that the landlord must very special reasons to prohibit his tenant from having pets. It impermissible to generally forbid tenants to live with any pets.

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Published on the old CMS: 2007/12/5
Read on the old CMS till November 2008: 271 reads


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