XL Bullies - 10 top tips for Landlords

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21 February, 2024

Jenna Tym
Partner and Barrister

In response to rise of attacks and fatalities by XL Bully dogs, on 31st December 2023 the Government introduced the Dangerous Dogs (Designated Types) (England and Wales) Order 2023, designating the XL Bully as a 'dangerous dog' under Section 1 Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

Having heard from many RPs, there are clear differences in the approaches taken towards tenants who own an XL Bully dog. Whilst some Councils and Housing Associations have opted an outright ban on tenants keeping an XL Bully, others have allowed tenants to keep their exempt dog as long as the tenant takes certain steps, such as signing a voluntary dog order.

Whatever approach your organisation has decided to take - it is imperative that tenants and owners of XL Bullies comply with the legislation and that you understand the enforcement steps you and other organisations can take, if needed.

What steps can you take to protect their tenants, staff, and communities?

To assist with monitoring XL Bullies and ensuring compliance by tenants, our Housing Experts at Forbes Solicitors have set out a number of suggested actions that you may wish to take:

  1. Write to tenants setting out important information, including the legislative changes, that they need to be aware of.
  2. Identify all tenants who own an XL Bully dog and place any necessary 'markers' on internal systems.
  3. Request and store records of the required Certificate of Exemption and Third-Party Liability Insurance. If a tenant Is not able to show a Certificate of Exemption, ask them to produce evidence that they have applied for a Certificate. Any delays to produce this information should be treated with caution.
  4. Partnership working is actively encouraged and you should be in regular contact with organisations such as the Dog Legislation Officer ('DLO') and Police. This will enable you to share information and best practice. DLOs can also assist in identifying whether a particular dog is a banned breed or has characteristics of a banned breed.
  5. Encourage tenants to report any suspicions of a banned or dangerous breed to the Police or Local Authority Officers. In any emergency, tenants should be encouraged to call 999.
  6. Ensure that tenants and occupants continue to report any nuisance or annoyance caused by any dog to your organisation.
  7. Consider your own enforcement methods alongside the powers of partner agencies if legal action is required. Furthermore, ensure that any chosen action will achieve the desired objective and will not contravene any other legislation (i.e. - you cannot invite the court to grant an injunction order requiring a tenant to re-home an XL Bully).
  8. Remember to consider the legislative consequences of any enforcement action.
  9. Ensure that your organisation does not display 'tunnel vision' and remembers that any dog, regardless of breed, can be dangerous. Therefore, working closely with tenants, focussing on early intervention, and building good ownership skills is extremely important.
  10. Whatever approach is being taken by your organisation, it is extremely important that you make your position regarding XL Bullies clear by adopting transparent and robust policies, procedures, and guidance from allocation through to enforcement. If you have not already done so, undertake a review and, if necessary, a re-draft of your policies, procedures, and guidance notes, ensuring that any amendments refer to all banned breeds, not just XL Bullies, and inform all tenants of any changes.

Should you wish to discuss any of the issues raised in this article or require assistance with reviewing and updating your policies, procedures or guidance notes.

For more information contact Jenna Tym in our Housing & Regeneration department via email or phone on 01772 220213. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

Learn more about our Housing & Regeneration department here

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