Selfless pet owners are to be banned from becoming council tenants in Bognor Regis.
A first-ever policy to control the species and number of animals which Arun District Council tenants can look after is set to be agreed.
Initial backing for the document was given by the council’s housing and customer services working group last week. It has to be debated by the council’s cabinet and then all councillors before it takes effect.
Johanne Batty, Arun’s neighbourhood services manager, said at last Thursday’s working group meeting the policy was needed to provide a fair approach to pets.
“We want to provide a consistent and transparent document to our residents as to what type of property is suitable for pets and what type of pets, and how many, we think is suitable,” she said.
“We think this will reduce the number of complaints we get. We have had concerns about irresponsible pet ownership and really serious complaints about noise from pets and pet fouling.”
The policy sets out four categories of the council’s 3,300 properties and states which pets will be allowed. It will only be applied to new tenants.
Those who rent houses and bungalows with private gardens will receive approval for two pets. Permission might also be given for other smaller domestic pets in cages.
Flats or maisonettes without gardens will only be judged to be suitable for smaller domestic pets in cages.
Those in ground floor flats and maisonettes with a private garden will be able to keep a dog or cat.
No pets will be allowed in temporary accommodation. One assistance pet will be allowed regardless of the property.
Pets which will be allowed include domestic dogs which have been micro-chipped and vaccinated. Cats will also need to have been neutered.
Small birds in cages and fish in a small aquarium will be permitted.
Ms Batty said council officers would have some discretion to vary the rules. But a strict benchmark was necessary.
“We have had some really serious problems with unhealthy numbers of birds in aviaries without permission. It is really difficult to tackle that,” she said.
Group head of residential services Satnam Kaur told the working group she had experienced some terrible living conditions caused by too many animals.
She said “I have been in more than a handful of flats with four or five dogs.”
A bid by Cllr Jacky Pendleton (C, Middleton) to soften the policy to allow for a cat or small dog to be allowed in properties without gardens subject to the tenant’s circumstances was defeated by 5-4 votes.
“We are depriving some of our more vulnerable residents who need company to stop them becoming isolated,” she said.
But she welcomed the overall policy for the clarity it brought to owning pets in council properties.