Rental crisis in Ireland affects dog ownership

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WE recently featured Dog-Friendly Ireland Day here on ‘For Pet’s Sake’ and it was fantastic to see how many businesses in Ireland are embracing the dog-friendly ethos.

Sadly, according to the charity Dogs Trust, the same can’t be said for the rental market in Ireland. A lack of dog-friendly accommodation is contributing to why many dogs are being surrendered to local authority pounds.

The charity also revealed recently that 75 people emailed them in 2018 looking to surrender their dog due to problems moving property. This is 15 per cent of all surrender request emails that the  Trust received in that year.

The charity recently launched its second national ‘Dog-Friendly Ireland Day’, which is part of a wider initiative to encourage more organisations and services across the country to become dog-friendly. More than 750 business owners and individuals pledged to welcome dogs onto their premises or visit their favourite dog-friendly spot by signing up to take part in the day and receive their dog-friendly goody bag from Dogs Trust. The charity is now focused on the difficulty that dog owners across the country are facing while trying to find accommodation that accepts dogs.

As part of their campaign, Dogs Trust has released ‘Renting with Rover’ guidelines for both tenants and landlords. It is hoped that these guidelines will help encourage more landlords to accept dogs, which will in turn help make the house-hunting process easier for people with dogs. With the housing market in turmoil, landlords are frequently turning away such candidates, not from a personally negative experience but the ‘fear of the unknown’ is listed as the biggest barrier. The guidelines offer helpful advice and steps that a landlord can take to help overcome any concerns they may have, as well as tips for renters to help them in the search process.

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The charity is also asking all estate agents and online rental sites who currently are, or are considering, listing dog-friendly properties, to make this option clear on their platforms for both renters and landlords.  Recent research carried out by Behaviours and Attitudes for Dogs Trust revealed that 57 per cent of private landlords weren’t aware if the mediums they use offer the option of advertising a property as pet-friendly.

Owen Reilly is one of the few estate agents breaking the mould in the rental market by encouraging landlords to consider tenants with pets.

Owen said, “We encourage our landlord clients to consider tenants with pets and in particular, dogs. Landlords who automatically rule out tenants with dogs are being shortsighted and are excluding a large portion of the rental market. Tenants are older and more mature than say, ten years ago. So many have dogs.

“From my experience, dog owners tend to be more responsible tenants because dog owners are more responsible by nature! They are so grateful to find a landlord who will consider them with their dog and they then tend to take very good care of the property. Not to mention, that letting out a property to someone with a dog will more than likely mean that they will be a long-term tenant, a win-win situation for everyone! People are going to rent for longer as a choice and smart landlord need to change their perceptions with the times. We have never had a property damaged by a tenant with a dog but simple measures such as taking a small pet deposit and doing regular checks on the property can help put a landlord’s mind at ease.

“We recently made a built-to-rent block pet-friendly and the demand doubled once this fact was advertised.”

A survey with landlords commissioned by Dogs Trust revealed that 48 per cent found damage caused by tenants to be the main problem, but only 11 per cent listed damage from a pet as a problem**. Furthermore, research by Behaviours and Attitudes carried out on behalf of Dogs Trust showed that 40 per cent of households in Ireland have at least one dog, so landlords who are open to the idea of welcoming dogs to their property would open up a larger selection of responsible and more likely long-term tenants.

One of the devastating knock-on effects from Ireland’s housing crisis is families who are now finding themselves homeless over the lack of property available to dog owners. All too often the charity hear that families are being left with no other option but to give up their dog, move back to their parents’ home with their dog or face eviction.

Dogs Trust believes that if more properties were dog-friendly, it would help ease the pressure on local authority pounds and rescue centres nationwide as the number of dogs being surrendered would lower and the number of people in a position to adopt would increase.

Sarah Lynch, campaigns manager for Dogs Trust, commented: “We strongly believe that if more dog-friendly accommodation was available, more people would be in a situation where they could welcome a dog into their family, and those who already own a dog would not have to give up their dog. There are simple steps a landlord can take such as discussing the topic with potential renters, meeting the dog beforehand, and getting a reference from a previous landlord. These could go a long way to alleviating any worries they may have.

“Although 42 per cent of landlords have admitted to purposefully not allowing a tenant to rent with a pet, 75 per cent say that they could be convinced. With an overwhelming majority open to the idea, we are hopeful that our guidelines will help both landlords and tenants open up the conversation about allowing pets.”