Tenant who signed ‘no pets’ clause ordered to pay £1,000 after moving in with dog and cats

In what has been described as a “a very unusual case”, a court has ordered a former tenant to pay £1,000 in compensation after damage estimated at £12,000 was found at the property.

The damage was found after the tenant moved into the property, which was advertised by agents Richard Watkinson and Partners for occupancy with no pets.

The agreement also stipulated no pets, but Martin Starsmore, 28, signed it, knowing he intended to have pets in the property.

He and his wife moved in with a border collie dog and three cats.

In court, Starsmore admitted fraudulently signing a tenancy agreement.

Nottingham Magistrates Court heard that the tenants did not often allow the agent into the property, and that a neighbour reported a bad smell. Starsmore was said to suffer from agoraphobia and never walked his dog.

After the property was vacated, an inspection found dog urine and excrement, with damage throughout, including to the window boards and cooker.

Building work costs were £4,000 and including replacing floorboards, while the carpets had to be replaced at a cost of £1,012.

Prosecutor Lee Shepherd said: “This is quite a strange set of events.”

He put the damage at £12,000.

He said that it had been difficult to know what to charge Starsmore with.

It could not be criminal damage, because it was alleged that the pets were at fault, and they could not be tried.

Defending, Graham Heathcote said that Starsmore “knew he was making a false claim but didn’t know that it would cause financial loss to the landlord.

“It’s something of a sentencing conundrum.”

Starsmore was told by magistrates that they were not convinced all of the damage could be attributed to the animals.

He was ordered to pay £1,000 in compensation to the agents to cover the cost of new carpets.

More about the case here


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  1. Peter

    “It could not be criminal damage, because it was alleged that the pets were at fault, and they could not be tried.”


    Might not be “criminal damage” but damage nonetheless.

    When did it change that pet owners were no longer responsible for the actions of their pets!

    1. Gump

      I looked after my friends dogs for 10 days a good few years ago.

      They got out and ended up playfully knocking a child over, not a scratch to be seen.

      I got a £300 comp order, costs and banned from owning dogs for 3 years.


      1. Kyle

        So are you getting a dog next year?

        1. Gump

          Haha! Noooooooooo!

  2. Kelly14

    I find it very sad that the poor border collie never got walked. I hope the RSPCA got involved.

  3. Beano

    Strange. So the police got involved in what are notoriously cited as civil matters? And the only charge they could get to stick was fraudulently signing a tenancy agreement? Is there more to this? Or perhaps the landlord is a member of the establishment?

  4. jad

    £12000 worth of work needed to put the property right ???  and it was really all down to a deceitful tenant and his wife……….   this is hardly a rare case as many landlords will tell you.   It is good to see justice for the Landlord in this case but what about the other £11,000 ??  the Magistrate had the power to make a realistic order and decided not to….  Time Osborne and Cameron instigate fair play for Landlords as well, I hope the Landlord now pursues this tenant thro’ the civil courts …….. vigorously.

  5. NALR

    No chat from Rent Rebel (aka Jeremy Corbyn’s press office) today then, suprise suprise!

    It is disgusting that they were only awarded £1,000.

  6. jad

    Not being in anyway a supporter of the Left or Socialism I do however totally agree with Corbyn’s policy of dialogue and would support him 100% if he needed financing to go to Syria to engage in dialogue with ISIS, he is just the right person for the job


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