Housing Crisis is killing our pets -Ban "No-Pet" clauses in rental accommodation
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End discrimination – Ban “No Pets” clauses in rented accomodation
A huge increase of dogs being given up to dog charities is due to the housing crisis. We can end this, and keep owners and their beloved animals together.
In rental housing policy, pets are rarely considered as valued household members. Instead, landlords and property managers are often permitted to ban pets outright, or to advertise them as merely negotiable in their listings for rental housing. In fact, previous research has shown that moving and renting are key reasons for animal relinquishment. Also, because younger adults are disproportionately tenants and because dogs are often banned from rental housing, dog owners face difficulties in finding rental housing. To keep their pets, tenants make compromises on where and how they live, which hold consequences for their health and that of their pets (study published by MPRI)
The bonds between humans and animals are powerful. And the positive correlation between pets and mental health is undeniable. According to a 2015 Harris poll, 95 percent of pet owners think of their animal as a member of the family. And that’s true no matter how old we are. Children, adolescents, adults, and seniors all find joy in their pets. Therefore, pets and mental health go hand in hand.
We have a mental health crisis in this country as well as a housing crisis. Research validates the benefits of pets for mental health. The mental health benefits of owning a dog or cat have been proven by many scientific studies. Animals help with depression, anxiety, and stress. In addition, they provide companionship and ease loneliness. Moreover, pets bring us joy and unconditional love. How sad that our dysfunctional housing market is robbing people of this tremendous, life-enhancing, life-giving experience. How short-sighted and narrow-minded of landlords to forbid pets from their properties.
Lynne Archer of the long-established Collon Animal Sanctuary in Co. Louth (via the mirror.ie):
Up to 35 dogs a month are being reluctantly surrendered because of the homeless crisis, according to the owner of an animal sanctuary who has described the regular scenes as ‘heartbreaking’. There is now a waiting list for people who want to surrender their dogs - many due to being made homeless.
Lynne has rescued and rehomed over 30,000 dogs in over 35 years in operation but says that seeing visually distressed families saying goodbye to their pets has been some of the most difficult moments in her time at the centre.
The sanctuary takes in an average of 50 dogs a month and Lynne says that up to 35 of these are due to owners becoming homeless. A further eight a month are left at the haven because owners have lost their jobs and can’t afford their pets, she says.
“There’s actually a waiting list now to accept them as we can only care for 35 dogs at the most at any one time. “We are seeing such sad stories. People whose houses have been repossessed and they have to move into smaller apartments where there’s either no room for a dog or the landlord won’t let them keep them.
“There are people moving into emergency accommodation who can’t take their dogs and then there are people who have to move back home with their parents and can’t bring their dogs with them.
“We are also seeing another at least eight dogs a month who are brought to us because their owners tell us they’ve lost their jobs - despite the so-called economic boom - and can no longer afford them.
“You see children and parents openly crying and sobbing their hearts out at having to say goodbye and the dog is upset too. It’s very difficult and heartbreaking.
“We just have to give them constant care and attention but the dogs are really affected by being separated from their beloved families.
“I can honestly say I haven’t seen things as bad as this since the 80s in terms of dogs being surrendered. It was bleak then but it’s worse now and there doesn’t seem to be any resolution to this.
“People think the good times are back but there is still so much hardship out there and the dogs are almost the first to feel it,” she concluded.
In Australia last year, every tenant in Victoria now has the right to have a pet in their rental property under sweeping reforms to the state's tenancy rules. This is not hard to do. Pet deposits are an option on properties regarding potential damage. Damage that is just as easily done by a child in many instances. Imagine being refused a home because you had a child, or were evicted for getting pregnant. Crazy, right? But for those of us who do not, or can not, have children, we still deserve company - a loving member of family to take care of. According to Emotional Support Animal Doctors, (esadoctors.com) an Emotional Support animal is a medical tool and not a pet. Disallowing pets for tenants regardless of their circumstances is discriminating against those with mental and emotional health issues who rely on their pet for support. Many of our most vulnerable members of society are in rented accommodation, where having a pet could make an unbelievable improvement on their health and wellbeing.
According to Mintel, just 56% of UK households today include a pet, compared with 63% in 2012. It’s apparently down to smaller homes and miserable landlords. And while there are certainly more tragic consequences to the nation’s housing crisis, it’s a development that threatens to sap colour and joy from our lives, and take away the lives of many perfectly healthy pets.
Evidence abounds concerning the material benefits of keeping a pet. Pets lower our blood pressure. Pets can help us recover from serious illness. Pets lessen our anxiety. Pets may help reduce our cholesterol levels. Pets can cut the likelihood of their owners developing allergies. Pets can be a godsend for children with autism and people experiencing various forms of mental distress.
We call on the Government to help alleviate multiple problems at once, by banning no-pet clauses from leases. The welfare of our animals, and the mental and emotional wellbeing of our people in rented accommodation are both at great risk.
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