Dogs Trust focuses on the rental crisis as part of Dog Friendly Ireland Day
Today is our 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. Over 750 business owners and individuals have 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. We hope that when organisations take part, they will see just how simple it is to implement a dog friendly policy in their own establishment.
This year, ‘Dog Friendly Ireland Day’ is focusing on the Irish rental market and the difficulty that dog owners across the country are facing while trying to find accommodation that accepts dogs. In 2018, we received an alarming 75 emails from members of the public looking to give up their dog due to problems moving property with their four-legged friend, which is 15% of all surrender request emails received in that year. As part of our campaign, we have 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 people with dogs, not from a personal negative experience but the ‘fear of the unknown’ listed as the biggest barrier. The guidelines offer helpful advice and steps 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
We are 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 revealed that 57% of private landlords weren’t aware if the mediums they use offer the option of advertising a property as pet friendly**.
Owen Reilly Estate Agents is one of the few estate agents breaking the mould in the rental market by encouraging accommodation that accepts 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 short sighted 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 us revealed that 48% found damage caused by tenants to be the main problem, but only 11% listed damage from a pet as a problem**. Furthermore, research by Behaviours and Attitudes carried out on behalf of Dogs Trust showed that 40% 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 we 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. One Irish woman who has suffered due to the lack of dog friendly accommodation say that she needs to find somewhere to rent with her dog urgently as her dog’s health is deteriorating but hasn’t had any luck finding anywhere yet.
Speaking about their destressing experience, Martina says: “The clock is ticking for me to be able to find somewhere for me, and my elderly dog ‘Sega’ to live. We currently live in an apartment complex but as Sega has numerous medical conditions such as cancer, arthritis and torn cruciate in her legs we need to find somewhere more suitable. My life is a constant struggle in our current accommodation, with no back garden I have to bring Sega for bathroom breaks multiple times a day, up and down many flights of stairs. I have been looking for six months, I have tried everything I can, but finding somewhere to rent with a dog that has a garden is an impossible task. I can’t keep going on like this, it’s not fair on her, and it’s not good for her health. I wouldn’t have imagined that I would ever be in this position, but that’s the crisis I and so many dog owners in Ireland are facing unless a miracle happens, and I find accommodation that welcomes dogs.”
Through our work with dog wardens across the country, we have been made aware that a huge increase in the numbers of dogs surrendered to pounds is largely due to the fact that their owners can no longer keep them in their rented property or they cannot find a new rental property that will allow them to keep their dog. In 2017, 27% of all dogs entering the pound system were as a result of surrenders***. We believe 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, Dogs Trust said: “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 that could go a long way to alleviating any worries they may have.
Although 42%* of landlords have admitted to purposefully not allowing a tenant to rent with a pet, 75% 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.”
*Impact housing crisis has had on Dogs Trust Rehoming Centre:
In 2018, 15% of all emails Dogs Trust received asking to surrender their dog were due to problems moving property. Dogs Trust also conducted a survey which revealed that 18% of people finding it difficult to find somewhere to rent that accepts pets had to leave their dog with family members and a further 23% resorted to keeping their pet in a property without the landlord’s knowledge.
Dogs Trust operates at full capacity and offers as many places as possible to dogs from Irish pounds, as they are the ones most at risk of destruction. For this reason, unfortunately the Charity is unable to take in surrendered dogs from members of the public.
**Research conducted by Behaviours & Attitudes in 2018 for Dogs Trust found the following:
- 40% of households in Ireland have at least one dog. This is much higher than our closest neighbours, the United Kingdom, where dog ownership stands at only 26%. Even still, the UK provide significantly more dog friendly services and venues, allowing people to include their dogs in their daily lives.
- 2 in 5 landlords would give a tenant the option of giving up their pet if they found out they were kept on property without their knowledge, while almost a fifth would evict the tenant.
- 57% of private landlords weren’t aware whether the mediums they use offer the option of advertising a property as pet friendly.
- Of the 50% of landlords who have used a letting agency or estate agency to rent their property, only 14% were aware that they could list their property as pet friendly. Similarly of the 46% of those who used Daft.ie to list their property, only 18% were aware they could list them as pet friendly.
- 48% of landlords found damaged caused by tenants to be the main problem, with only 11% citing damage caused by tenant’s pets as a problem.
- A third of landlords have allowed a tenant to keep a pet in at least one property while 42% have purposefully not allowed a tenant to house a pet.
- While a quarter of landlords claim there is nothing that would encourage them to rent properties to pet owners, 75% could be convinced.
- 44% of dog owners indicated that they would be more likely to holiday in Ireland if more dog friendly accommodation was available.
- 48% of all adults surveyed would be happy to stay in a hostel, hotel or holiday home if they allowed guests to bring their dogs. This is a 10% increase on the previous year.
- 42% of those surveyed are happy to eat in a café, pub, restaurant or other venue which served food and allowed dogs on a lead. This has seen a 10% increase since the clarification of legislation in this area.
*** Dog Control Statistics: https://www.gov.ie/en/collection/879d4c-dog-control-statistics/?referrer=/dog-control/view-our-dog-control-statisticsFSAI clarity around dogs being permitted in food serving establishments.
In November 2017, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) clarified the rules surrounding dogs being permitted into food premises, meaning that it is now at the discretion of the food business owner whether or not they wish to allow dogs in their premises.
Paragraph 22 of Regulation 25 of the Food Hygiene Regulations 1950 has now been revoked meaning that dogs are now allowed into food premises such as restaurants and cafés if the business owner so wishes, provided that proper procedures are in place to prevent dogs from having access to areas where food is prepared, stored or handled, as per EU regulations.
For more information on the FSAI regulations see here
For the Statutory Instruments on Food Hygiene (Revocation Of Certain Provisions) Regulations 2017 see here