What’s the XL Bully Dog ban?

Following The Dangerous Dogs (Designated Types) (England and Wales) Order 2023, the Government has added XL Bully type dogs to the list of banned dangerous dogs in England and Wales under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

An American Bully XL, known as an XL Bully, is the largest of the American bully types. They are not a registered breed as they are a type of dog that has been bred from several different dog breeds. The government has therefore created its own specifications for the breed, which includes the size of their head and muzzle, their build, and the height and length of their body.

Since 31st December 2023, s. 1(2) of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 applies to XL Bully dogs.

This means no person shall—

(a) breed, or breed from an XL Bully dog

(b) sell or exchange such an XL Bully dog or offer, advertise or expose such a dog for sale or exchange;

(c) make or offer to make a gift of such an XL Bully dog or advertise or expose such a dog as a gift;

(d) allow an XL Bully dog, of which he is the owner, or of which he is for the time being in charge, to be in a public place, without being muzzled and kept on a lead; or

(e) abandon an XL Bully dog of which he is the owner or, being the owner or for the time being in charge of such a dog, allow it to stray.

From 1st February 2024, it will become a criminal offence (liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or a fine ) to own an XL Bully dog in England and Wales pursuant to s. 1(3) of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, unless a dog has a valid Certificate of Exemption, under The Dangerous Dogs (Compensation and Exemption Schemes) (England and Wales) Order 2023.

To register for a Certificate of Exemption for an XL Bully, owners must hold active public liability insurance for their dog, have had their dog microchipped, and pay the application fee, which is £92.40. Owners will also be required to provide proof that their dog has been neutered. This will be by 30th June 2024 for most dogs, and by the end of 2024 for dogs under one-year-old on 31st January 2024.


What is the impact to landlords?

Most tenancy agreements explicitly prohibit tenants from having a dog of a banned breed. Landlords should first consider their existing pet policies, and further consider whether they will allow existing XL Bully owners to keep their dogs. Landlords should consider granting any such permission on a case-by-case basis and will need to take into account the tenant’s compliance with the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, the tenant’s personal circumstance, the terms of the tenancy agreement, its current pet policy and any history of anti-social behaviour.

It is important to note that it is now a criminal offence to give away / sell an XL Bully dog and this means that landlords cannot ask tenants to rehome XL Bully dogs.

If a landlord has an issue with an XL Bully dog, and the owner is not complying with the provisions within Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, it should consider reporting the matter to the police, as it may be a criminal offence.

If police action isn’t possible, for whatever reason, and a landlord wanted to consider legal action in respect of an XL Bully dog, due to a breach of tenancy or ASB, it could consider the use of either an ASB or a breach of tenancy injunction.

Any such application would need to be considered case by case, but landlords should note that should they seek any injunction term forbidding the tenant from keeping the dog, it would effectively mean that the dog must be euthanised. Although such an order would in theory be within the court’s power, the question remains whether this would be deemed just and convenient and whether this is an order a Judge would make.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has been granted a judicial review hearing that should take place sometime in January. This could potentially impact the law around XL Bully dogs, however, as matters stand, the XL Bully dogs ban is in force and the new guidelines must be followed.

The key point for landlords at this stage is to review their existing pet policies and tenancy agreements, to ensure they are in line with the new legislation and government guidelines.

Further, should a landlord have reports of ASB or breach of tenancy in respect of an XL bully dog, it should first consider whether the matter is a criminal offence and if so, report it to the police, and if not, whether there are grounds to at least consider legal action by way of an injunction

Should a landlord have any queries about its housing management when it comes to XL Bully dogs, please contact MSB Social Housing and Regeneration Team.

The law is correct as of 16th January 2024

>Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure that the law in this article is correct, it is intended to give a general overview of the law for educational purposes. You are respectfully reminded that it is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. No liability is accepted for any error or omission contained herein.