‘No Pet’ Covenants and the Law: A Harm Assessment Approach to Regulating Companion Animals in Rental Housing Across the World

Deborah Rook*, Brinda India Jegatheesan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The covid-19 pandemic, and in particular, the rise in pet ownership, the greater focus on home-life during lockdowns and the normalisation of hybrid-working conditions post-pandemic, has shed light on an under-researched area of law that affects millions of people across the world: the use of ‘no pet’ covenants in private rental housing. This article identifies the prevalence of ‘no pet’ covenants as a socio-legal problem that is of global significance. It assesses the legal regulation of pets in private rental housing through a Harm Assessment approach that has global application. A Harm Assessment approach balances harms to various stakeholders in both the use and restriction of ‘no pet’ covenants. In countries that have no legal regulation of pets in housing it can be used to assess the need for legislation. This approach considers the character, magnitude and likelihood of the harm, something which has had little consideration to date. Drawing, by analogy, on the work of Feinberg and his analysis of harm within the context of the legitimacy of state interference with individual liberty, this article adapts his theory of harm to assess the need for legal regulation of pets in rental housing. The legitimacy of a Harm Assessment approach is supported by the existing literature on ‘no pet’ covenants, from which the dominant theme of harm emerges. Identifying and weighting the types of harm to be balanced varies depending on cultural, religious and geographic considerations and further research is needed to better understand the harms in different countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalLiverpool Law Review
Early online date1 Jun 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Jun 2024

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