This is the council response to a number of emails I have received on the subject of pets in council properties.
Question 2 – Councillor Bolton – Pets in Council Properties
Q: Can I ask what council policy on this actually is, please?
Many homeless people keep dogs for security as well as comfort. Currently only 9% of hostels for homeless people in the UK are dog�friendly, meaning that many dog owners are denied access to shelter and support, simply because they have a dog. Likewise, rules on dog ownership for council housing or housing association tenants vary from place to place, with many councils forcing people to give up their pets to rescue centres � or remain homeless.
It is NOT okay to tell people they cannot have emergency housing because they have pets. It is NOT okay to leave them in cold with these pets. It's callous. It's discriminatory. This would NEVER happen to someone with kids. To thousands of people, their pets ARE their kids. People like Hillary Barrows in Canterbury have had to live in their cars in minus degree weather because they could not have emergency help because of their dogs. You must understand the importance of pets to the homeless, the bond, the love that is exchanged. Do not take that away from them and make them suffer.
Please tell me, what is our council's position on this issue? Does our council provide emergency housing for people with dogs? Do we provide council housing for people with dogs? If so, what percentage of our emergency and council housing allows dogs? And what quantity of our emergency accommodation and council houses allow dogs?
A: Bristol City Council commissions a range of accommodation services for vulnerable single homeless people that provide high, medium, & low support; at each support level there is housing available for people with dogs or other pets. Therefore a street homeless person with a dog should be able to access emergency accommodation & follow a pathway through supported housing to independence. We try to maximise the number of accommodation units where people can be accommodated with their dog. However, this can create management issues, especially where there are shared facilities or areas so not every project will accommodate dogs. As having a pet can obstruct people’s move on into longer term accommodation, occasionally difficult decisions about not keeping a pet need to be made.
In terms of families, our main emergency accommodation provider operates a general no pets policy but will take families with a dog where there are strong reasons to do so. Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate families with dogs in our 2 in-house emergency accommodation schemes due to risk to other residents, children and staff in a shared, confined environment.
We do not generally have dog-free flatted blocks in our Council housing & therefore a dog-owner who has been homeless would be able to live there. However there are some blocks that are designated dog free, which has happened following consultation and ballot of the people living there. Where blocks are designated as dog-free, new tenants will not be allowed to have dogs and existing tenants with dogs will not be allowed to replace them. Obviously tenants with guide dogs are excluded from this policy.
With regard to private rented housing, used for temporary accommodation, as there is no statutory regulation about the right to have pets, it rests merely on the terms and conditions contained in a tenancy agreement. If there is no specific clause, then they can have a pet, though the general tenancy requirement for the property to be looked after/ undamaged would have to be satisfied, as it would with all tenancies.