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Maidstone homeless man John Chadwick mentioned in Parliament in new Dogs and Domestic Animals Bill to compel landlords to accept pets

The tragic suicide of Maidstone homeless man John Chadwick will be referred to in the House of Commons today as an MP attempts to introduce a bill to strictly limit the ability of landlords to impose a "no pets" rule.

Mr Chadwick took his own life in 2017 after he was banned from taking his two dogs and a cat into the permanent accommodation the borough council had found for him.

John Chadwick took his own life rather than be separated from his pets
John Chadwick took his own life rather than be separated from his pets

The Conservative MP for Romford, Andrew Rosindell, is introducing a 10-Minute Bill called the Dogs and Domestic Animals (Accommodation and Protection) Bill.

Mr Rosindell, a well known dog lover, and former shadow minister for animal welfare, said: “As a dog owner for 25 years, I understand as well as anyone the connection a person can have with their pet.

"For too long, I have heard tragic stories of pet owners separated from their pets because of the blanket bans that landlords implement.”

His proposed legislation has been backed by animal welfare organisations including the RSPCA, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and the Dogs Trust, as well as by Maidstone campaigner Dee Bonnett.

Ms Bonnett was a good friend of Mr Chadwick and following his death ran a three-year campaign in which she successfully persuaded Maidstone council to alter its own policy so as to allow pets into properties it directly controls.

Andrew Rosindell MP is introducing the Bill
Andrew Rosindell MP is introducing the Bill

The council does not have the power to compel private landlords to accept pets, but Mr Rosindell's bill could alter this.

He will have 10 minutes in parliament today to persuade colleagues the bill should be adopted and given its first reading.

It would require landlords to accept tenants' pets if they could prove they were responsible owners.

That would likely include a vet's confirmation in the case of a dog that it had been vaccinated, spayed/neutered, was free from parasites and responsive to basic training commands.

Other checklists would apply for other types of pet.

Dee Bonett with John Chadwick in happier times
Dee Bonett with John Chadwick in happier times

Mr Rosindell is expected to tell parliament: "Every year, pet owners who are trying to move into new rented accommodation are faced with the reality that their family could be torn apart."

Mr Rosindell said: "This is a huge opportunity to pressure the government to make changes that they promised earlier this year.

"In January the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick rightly called on landlords to make it easier for responsible tenants to have well behaved pets in their homes, but as of yet this hasn’t been followed by any legislation.”

Ms Bonnet said she was "overwhelmed" after being contacted by the MP's office for details about Mr Chadwick, who she refers to as "my Hon."

She said: "That he should be mentioned in Parliament - it's just unbelievable. I'm lost for words."

Cllr Derek Mortimer (Lib Dem), who chairs the Communities, Housing and Environment Committee, which has listened to Ms Bonett's pleas, said: "This is quite a coup. Congratulations to Dee."

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