Section 215 : Animal Boarding, Kennels & Catteries

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Section 215 : Animal Boarding, Kennels & Catteries

1. Co-ordination

The framework for co-ordination is shown in Rating Manual Volume 2 Section 1, and, where appropriate, in the relevant Revaluation practice note.

2. Description

Background

Animal boarding, kennels and catteries are classes of property run commercially or as charity; such establishments may be located in commercial, residential or rural locations.

They fall into two broad groupings:

  • Animal Boarding
  • Kennels & Catteries
2.1 Animal Boarding

The expression “Animal Boarding” strictly speaking encompasses “Kennels & Catteries”, but for rating purposes “Animal Boarding” establishments exclude dedicated kennels and catteries, and tend to be larger operations.

Animal Boarding hereditaments are therefore more likely to be charities that take in all manner of creatures (including dogs & cats), domestic strays, pets whose owners are no longer able to cope, rescued animals and even wildlife (hedgehogs, birds, frogs and the like), for re-homing, recuperation resuscitation and/or repatriation.

The types of hereditament are diverse: ranging from small establishments in converted farm buildings occupied together with small areas of land, to much larger premises with purpose-built enclosures and a full range of associated paraphernalia.

The latter may include horse and donkey sanctuaries and, where animal boarding is the primary use, horse and donkey animal boarding sanctuaries must not be confused with other hereditaments occupied for equestrian uses. These are dealt with elsewhere in the Rating Manual and include Eventing Courses (section 373), Horse Racecourses (section 500), Point to Point Race Meetings (Section 795), Polo Grounds (Section 798), Riding Schools & Livery Stables (Section 995), Racing Stables / Racing Yards (Section 996) and Stud Farms (Section 1005).

2.2 Kennels & Catteries

Kennels and catteries are typically a business concern offering facilities for owners to leave their cats or dogs for short periods whilst on holiday or away from home; they offer many of the features on the following list of accommodation and services, and some may offer all of them:

  • Housing in purpose built kennels, or “chalets” – built of block work or timber, ideally with “anti-sneeze” barriers.
  • Runs for exercising – open, closed or mesh construction on concrete or grass.
  • Isolation facilities available if needed.
  • Access to a veterinary surgeon.
  • Well-stocked first aid kit.
  • Register of all pets boarded containing all appropriate details of the pet and its owner.
  • Feeding facilities.
  • Parking – for dropping off pets, and for clients and staff.
  • Pet Taxi Service – for getting pets around.
  • Storage – for the animals’ effects; favourite food, special tablets, etc..
  • Office or offices – for the administration, ‘phone calls, records etc..
  • Shop – for purchasing forgotten items at “drop off”, and souvenir mugs, etc
  • Walking services.
  • Grooming and other attentions.
  • Peace and quiet.
  • In house veterinary services.

Kennels & catteries generally fall into in three types or categories:

  • Category A - The best establishment with brick/block kennels; good ancillary accommodation; may have a shop for selling accessories. Relatively close to centres of population. They will generally be the larger more profitable hereditament.
  • Category B - The normal run of the mill establishment; may have similar standard of kennel/ cattery or be of timber construction. Generally smaller and unlikely to have a shop. May still be in a good location.
  • Category C - This category contains the residue (those not in A and B above), and will include establishments with poorer quality buildings, and those in remote locations. It will also include the small “hobby” type of operation.

Quality Considerations

There are various levels of quality of establishment, and an apparent lack of proactive regulation (other than at the “cruelty” end of the spectrum) leads to a situation where warnings and “what to look out for” advice appears on the Internet. This results in already concerned pet owners, who are typically very careful about where they will leave their pet, being very concerned indeed about finding a suitable temporary home for their dog or cat. Subsequently, personal recommendations lead to very popular kennels and catteries being oversubscribed, especially at popular times such as Summer Holidays.

Reputation is a very important consideration for any kennel or cattery operator who wants to build up a long lasting and successful business. This is because cat and dog owners have a natural ”telegraph” system; they know each other and “bump into” each other, for example at the veterinary surgery, out walking (the dog) or at the shops and various establishments where pets are welcomed. This means any “tales” of poor treatment, or of pets catching fleas or other ailments at any establishment, etc. circulate very quickly. In extreme cases, disgruntled pet owners will contact their local council and complain.

Therefore the quality of a kennel or cattery clearly has an impact on its potential value. The following provides an indication of the features that may provide an insight into whether one kennel or cattery is better or worse than any other:

Better Features

Poorer Features

BIG: 2m wide Chalets (or kennels) allowing ample room for stretching

SMALL: 1m wide kennels, which are cramped

BRIGHT: lots of natural daylight

DARK: very little light

FREEDOM: attached run

CONFINED: no attached run

FEWER KENNELS: quiet and calm

LOTS OF KENNELS: noisy and stressful

HEATED: Comfortable

UNHEATED: Uncomfortable, potentially cold

It is worth bearing in mind that a large chalet housing too many animals is just as cramped as too small a chalet containing one; conversely a small chalet containing small animals may be just as comfortable as a large chalet containing one large animal.

2.3 Cruelty to animals kept at establishments

It must be made clear that any deliberate or neglectful mistreatment of animals is a cruelty issue; as such it is separate criminal offence and falls outside the scope of this practice note, which assumes that the Kennels & Catteries are treating animals correctly and competently.

3. Licensing

The keeping and running of animal boarding establishments (including kennels & catteries) is controlled by the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963.

Establishments where the boarding of animals is being carried on as a business are subject to the 1963 Act, which requires such establishments to be licensed by the local authority. For the purpose of this Act the keeping of such establishments is defined as the carrying on at any premises, including a private dwelling, of a business of providing accommodation for other peoples’ cats and dogs.

The licence is granted at the discretion of the local authority, which may take into account the suitability of the accommodation and whether the animals are well fed, exercised and protected from disease and fire.

No person may keep a boarding establishment for animals without first obtaining a licence from their Local Authority.

Application for a licence must be made to the Local Authority and a licence may be issued if the applicant is not disqualified under any of the following Acts:

  • The Animal Boarding Establishment Act 1963.
  • The Pet Animals Act 1951.
  • The Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act 1954.

Ordinarily, an application fee is paid at the time an application is made, added to which is a compulsory local authority veterinary surgeons inspection fee.

Where a licence is granted, that licence and any subsequent licence will typically expire at the end of the year to which the licence relates and typically be renewed before that date if the premises are to continue as an animal boarding establishment.

Some local authorities publish a list of the premises that are licensed on the Internet or a list may be available from their offices.

Powers, duties and responsibilities

The applicant will ordinarily be required to pay the cost of inspections carried out by the Council's authorised Veterinary Surgeon or Veterinary Practitioner.

Before being granted a licence the applicant is ordinarily required to be able to demonstrate to the council's licensing inspector:

  • That the animals will at all times be kept in accommodation suitable in respect of construction, size of quarters, number of occupants, exercising facilities, temperatures, lighting, ventilation and cleanliness.
  • That animals will be adequately supplied with suitable food, drink and bedding materials, adequately exercised, and (so far as is necessary) visited at suitable intervals.
  • That all reasonable precautions will be taken to prevent and control the spread of infectious or contagious diseases, including the provision of adequate isolation facilities.
  • That appropriate measures will be taken to protect the animals in case of fire or other emergency, including the provision of suitable fire fighting equipment.
  • That a register containing a description of any animal received into the establishment, the date of arrival and departure, and the name and address of the owner will be kept, and that the register will be available for inspection at all times by a Licensing inspector or by a Veterinary Surgeon or Veterinary Practitioner authorised by the council.

A licence may be refused or withheld on other grounds if those grounds are such that conditions were not suitable for the boarding of animals.

Ordinarily, each licence is issued subject to standard conditions that are imposed on all Animal Boarding establishments licensed by the particular council concerned.

In addition to the standard conditions a licence may also contain special conditions that are only applicable to the premises.

Rights of Appeal

Any person aggrieved by a refusal to be granted a licence or by any conditions to which a licence is subject may appeal to the Magistrates Courts who may give such directions regarding the licence or its conditions as it thinks proper.

Offences and Penalties

The following offences apply to the keeping of Animal Boarding establishment, and any breach may bring a fine or imprisonment or both, as authorised in the appropriate legislation.

  • Anybody found guilty of keeping an Animal Boarding establishment without a licence
  • Anybody found guilty of failing to comply with the conditions of their licences
  • Anybody found guilty of obstructing or delaying an Inspector, or authorised Veterinary Surgeon or Veterinary Practitioner in the exercising of his or her powers of entry

Additionally, if found guilty under the appropriate Act, the defendant's licence may be cancelled and they may be disqualified from keeping an Animal Boarding establishment for such length of time the Court thinks fit.

Other Considerations:

New catteries are now required to at least conform to the current Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Model Licence Conditions & Guidance for Cat Boarding Establishments. Similarly, when buying or taking over an existing cattery it must be brought up to the current standard.

Planning Permission is often required when converting premises or creating a cattery, kennel or animal boarding operation from scratch.

An example of a typical licence application is attached at Appendix 1.

4. Rateability

4.1 Buildings

Animal boarding, including kennels & catteries, is a non-domestic use and any such hereditament falls to be placed in local rating lists.

4.2 Land

In the vast majority of cases, animal boarding (including kennels & catteries) occupies “lands” and this means that a hereditament falls to be placed in local lists. However, although is expected to be very rare, certain larger animal boarding operations may seem to occupy “agricultural land”. The operation of animal boarding is not considered an agricultural use, but if VOs are faced with the argument that it is in any individual case, “Agricultural land” is defined in paragraph 2 of Schedule 5 to LGFA ’88. This definition includes:

“Land used as arable, meadow or pasture ground only.”

However, it is worth noting that “pasture land” is land upon which animals graze or feed upon grasslands and not simply exercise.

The issue of agricultural land is explored more fully in Rating Manual Volume 4: Section 8: Part D: paragraph 4.4.

4.3 Domestic/Non-Domestic Borderline

Property can be considered to be domestic if (amongst other things) it fulfils the conditions of section 66(1)(b) of LGFA 1988, i.e.it is a yard, garden, outhouse or other appurtenance belonging to or enjoyed with living accommodation”. The technical application of this requirement is explored in more detail in Rating Manual Volume 4; Section 2 Occupation & The Hereditament: Part B. Paragraph 5.7 is a useful starting point. Commercial boarding kennels are regarded as not being used wholly used for ‘domestic purposes’. It is highly unlikely that Animal Boarding facilities occupied together with a dwelling will be used only for animals owned by the residents of that dwelling; they should not be treated as domestic: the Animal Boarding hereditament will be a composite hereditament.

Where animals belonging to the owners of a dwelling are boarded in an appurtenance to the dwelling, such an appurtenance should be within the curtilage of the dwelling and also be expected to pass, together with the living accommodation, under the same conveyance without further mention. See the decision of the President of Lands Tribunal in Martin & Others v Hewitt (VO) 2003 RA 275, (the Windermere boathouse cases), for a further exploration of this point.

Regard must also be had to the relative size of the living accommodation and the to the size of the Animal Boarding use and not vice versa.

That said, animal boarding operations occupied together with living accommodation should not be regarded as appurtenances belonging to, or enjoyed with, the living accommodation. They are not domestic premises and should be treated as composite non-domestic hereditaments in the same way that a shop and flat would be.

A consideration of the planning permission may be of assistance in deciding whether or not the animal boarding (including kennels, catteries and other relevant ancillary facilities) may be treated as appurtenant to the domestic property.

5. Referencing

Buildings should be measured to NIA, in accordance with the Valuation Office Agency Code of Measuring Practice for Rating Purposes.

Land used for non-exempt purposes (see paragraph 3.2 above) must also be measured and its specific use recorded.

6. Basis of Valuation

It is expected that sufficient rental evidence will exist in the area of a Group (or cluster of Groups) to enable valuations to be carried out on a rental basis. The recommended approach to rental analysis and valuation is to derive a value per m2 as a starting point.

Where this is not the case, some assistance may be gained from a consideration of the income generating potential of the premises. However, whilst a “shortened method”, based on the analysis of a rent by reference to a percentage of gross receipts, may produce an indicator of value in certain circumstances, it is not considered appropriate to adopt the Receipts & Expenditure valuation method for this class.

See also the appropriate Practice Note, where available.

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