Here is an example of one of those rare but great little stories which reminds us of the many laws that still remain but not often known about.
Natasha Brooks, from Greater Manchester, kept two chickens (named Henny and Penny just in case you were wondering) in the back garden of her property, which is owned by New Charter Housing Trust.
After an inspection by a housing officer, staff began action to remove the birds because they said they were in breach of her tenancy agreement.
The housing association were asked by Mr Cole (a cousin of Ms Brooks) (and not a solicitor) to consider section 12 of the Allotments Act 1950 which states:
12 Abolition of contractual restrictions on keeping hens and rabbits.
(1) Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary in any lease or tenancy or in any covenant, contract or undertaking relating to the use to be made of any land, it shall be lawful for the occupier of any land to keep, otherwise than by way of trade or business, hens or rabbits in any place on the land and to erect or place and maintain such buildings or structures on the land as reasonably necessary for that purpose:
Provided that nothing in this subsection shall authorise any hens or rabbits to be kept in such a place or in such a manner as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance or affect the operation of any enactment.
The Act does not define lease, tenancy or land in such a way as to limit it to allotments so New Charter agreed that Ms Brooks could keep the two birds.
New Charter spokesperson Bob Clowrey said:
‘The tenancy agreement is not explicit on the keeping of chickens. We are grateful to Mr Cole for bringing to our attention the Provision of Allotment Act 1950 which provides clarification and we are glad to have been able to resolve the matter before ending up with egg on our face.”
‘On this basis of the clarification provided by the Allotment Act Ms Brooks can keep Henny and Penny, providing that all relevant tenancy conditions and legal obligations are complied with.’