Anyone renting a house or apartment in Flanders in future will have an automatic right to keep a pet, the region’s animal welfare minister Ben Weyts announced. At present, pets are accepted only at the letter’s discretion. Some allow animals, others none at all, and yet others will, for example, allow cats but no dogs.
Under an agreement reached between Weyts and the association which represents the owners of rented properties, the right to keep an animal is assumed, unless the property itself is not suitable – the onus being on the owner to show this is the case – or unless the existing building regulation for an apartment block already bans pets.
Current rules assume the keeping of animals is disallowed, unless the letter gives express written permission. Recently, successful court actions have been brought by tenants whose permission was suddenly withdrawn despite years of trouble-free pet ownership.
“My mailbox is full of heart-breaking stories of people who had been separated from their animals,” Weyts said. “We’re now turning the situation on its head.”