Court defeat for couple bidding to keep dog at gated estate with no-pets policy

A couple have lost the first stage in their legal battle to keep their pet dog in their flat.

Gabby and Florian Kuehn claim they were told Vinnie, their Yorkshire terrier cross, could stay when they bought the flat in Limehouse, east London, in 2014.

They moved in in November 2015.

The Victory Place management company, representing residents on the gated estate of 146 flats, insists there is a no-pets policy which is part of the lease.

Judge Donald Cryan, sitting at Mayor's & City of London Court, ruled the couple's case "comes down to 'I love my dog'" but that does not mean that consent for him to stay should be given.

Mrs Kuehn, 45, a recruitment consultant, and her 42 year-old banker husband intend to appeal.  

Victory Place said there is a blanket ban on pets, except for special circumstances such as the need for a guide dog.

The judge said: "I'm satisfied that the claimants have made clear from the outset what they believed their position to be." 

He said the Kuehns had "taken a risk" and were in breach of the terms of their lease "and sadly, for them, the dog will have to go". 

The management firm says the lease makes it clear there is a blanket ban on pets, except in special circumstances.

The Kuehns had told the management company at one point Vinnie fitted this special circumstances demand because he was needed for therapeutic purposes due to a medical condition suffered by the Kuehns.

The judge said this was "curious" as nothing was produced to back it up.

The judge said: "There was reference to therapeutic benefits ... but nothing was presented by the claimants to show that the dog in question was considered by any medical practitioner as medical support for either of the defendants.

"In the event the case comes down to 'I love my dog', an emotion which one can readily understand and indeed sympathise with but it is hardly any unusual state for a dog owner to love his dog."

Most of the residents backed a ban in a vote taken last year.

Of the 76 votes cast, 75 were for it and the only people to object were the Kuehns.

After the hearing, Victory Place Management Company said the estate had always been advertised as a pet-free development since it was built in 1996/97.

The company's board of directors said it did not think it was right to break away from its established policy without the approval of the majority of leaseholders.

They asked the other residents if they wanted to change the policy and they "overwhelmingly" backed a ban.

In the statement, the board said: "This policy was very clear and always communicated as such to any prospective buyers.

"This attracted a number of people for whom this point was very important. Some of them have allergies to dogs and cats' hair, or have small children suffering from it.

"Others have dog phobia and do not want to have barking dogs in a closely compacted development such as Victory Place."

After the hearing Mrs Kuehn said she had "no indication" of the costs they will have to pay.

She said: "It has been a very, very difficult 15 months but I am proud of the fact that we have stood up for what we believe in.

"I am going to continue to campaign against these ridiculous, small-minded policies that discriminate against people with pets.

"We live in a society of tolerance and inclusion, supposedly, and yet we don't have people who recognise pets as companions, part of the family unit and part of our therapeutic wellbeing."

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