Pets provide vital care, court rules

We’ve all had noisy neighbours at some point in our life. Whether it’s the teenage son practising his drums or babies crying in the early hours, there are times when we’ve all had enough. But one noise complaint in particular has warmed our hearts at Bridge Law, as we remember that dogs are very much for life and not just for Christmas…

Ashleigh Costello had a noise complaint made against her by her landlord, who claimed that her dogs’ barking constituted a nuisance. Ms Costello was accused of breaching her tenancy agreement and threatened with having her dogs, a terrier/chihuahua cross called Tibor and two Shih Tzus called Bon Bon and Chester, taken away from her.

Ms Costello is deaf and has recently lost her partner and close friends. She said that her dogs provided support for her disability as well as love and companionship when she was at her lowest. She feared that her dogs would not be rehomed because they are elderly, and that she would be left without support.

In court her lawyer, Siddiq Fazaluddin, argued that Ms Costello’s landlord had failed to provide her with extra carpets and other noise reducing measures, and had also failed to make reasonable adjustments for her deafness. Under the Equality Act 2010, the final hearing in December found that Ms Costello was entitled to keep her dogs because of the emotional and practical support they provide.

Ms Costello has agreed to take all reasonable steps to ensure her dogs do not create a nuisance in the future, and she will only replace them with a formally-trained assistance dog. After two years of uncertainty, during which time Tibor sadly died of old age, Ms Costello has the security of knowing that Bon Bon and Chester will stay safely with her, and hopes that her story will encourage other disabled people to continue to fight for their rights.

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