‘More-than-human’ families in multi-species tenancies: A critical analysis of ‘no pet’ covenants and the law

Rook, Deborah (2021) ‘More-than-human’ families in multi-species tenancies: A critical analysis of ‘no pet’ covenants and the law. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

Text (Doctoral Thesis)
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‘No pet’ covenants restrict or prohibit the keeping of companion animals in rented housing. They affect millions of tenants across the United Kingdom and yet have received very little consideration in the academic law literature. My research seeks to address this knowledge gap by understanding the lived experience of ‘no pet’ covenants for pet-owning tenants.
By reference to different models of family including Morgan’s ‘family practices’ approach, my research shows how people construct companion animals as family members. I argue that the human-companion animal relationship falls within the meaning of ‘private life and family’ under Article 8, European Convention on Human Rights. The depth of analysis with which I examine human rights arguments in the context of ‘no pet’ covenants is an original contribution to the field.
Embracing qualitative research methods, I conducted seven in-depth interviews with petowning tenants adversely affected by ‘no pet’ covenants to assess the type and magnitude of the harm they endured. I used three methods of data analysis: firstly, thematic content analysis of the interviews; secondly, narrative analysis of stories I crafted from four of my interviews; thirdly, black letter law analysis of the current law affecting the use and enforcement of ‘no pet’ covenants in England.
My findings provide a framework for Parliament to assess the need for legislation to regulate the use of ‘no pet’ covenants. The paucity of academic research makes it difficult for politicians to engage in an informed debate. My research provides understanding of how the covenants affect one of the key stakeholders, namely pet-owning tenants. Since companion animals are perceived as family members, the covenants can result in significant harm to tenants sometimes having life-changing consequences. I suggest a reconceptualization of ‘no pet’ covenants from controllers of risk to contributors of harm. My empirical study constitutes a valuable exploratory pilot study that paths the way for a more comprehensive study to investigate the experience of all the stakeholders, including landlords. I present a Fair Housing framework to guide Parliament in balancing the disparate rights of all those affected. Drawing on Mill’s harm principle as developed by Feinberg, I propose a balancing strategy within the context of a Harm Assessment.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: human-companion animal relationship, residential leases, pets as family members, housing law and policy, landlords and tenants
Subjects: M100 Law by area
M200 Law by Topic
M900 Other in Law
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Northumbria Law School
Depositing User: Rachel Branson
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2021 13:23
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2022 08:01
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/45906

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