Renters forced to choose between pets and property
Friday 22 Feb 2013 8:44 a.m.
Rental properties are being snapped up in Christchurch, but many pet owners are being left out in the cold.
Accommodation is hard to come by as earthquake repairs continue and people are forced to relocate, but it's especially difficult if any of your family members have more than two legs.
Katie Cawley doesn't have children, but she does have dogs.
"They are my children," she laughs.
But she's had to move back in with her mum because no landlords want these guys on their property.
"It's very unideal," says Ms Cawley. "I'm 25, I don't particularly want to be at home. I love my family but it makes life very difficult."
Landlords basically have a default no pets policy. But property managers say in some cases they should loosen up, as in Christchurch at the moment there's a different type of tenant moving around the market – responsible, but displaced.
"A lot of them have owned their own homes and they're out of their homes for quake reasons, and so they have their family pets and they know how to look after them a little more than traditionally," say Tony Brazier of Brazier Property.
"It isn't fair on people like me," says Ms Cawley. "I'm a professional, I have got two dogs who aren't home in the day and who are big couch potatoes and wouldn't do anything, and I can't get a house."
For Ms Cawley, getting rid of her dogs isn't an option, but many others have no choice.
Dogwatch, which specialises in re-homing dogs, says healthy animals are too often being dumped or put down.
"If the situation get so bad the only other option is to ethane the dog, and I know that vets are getting sick of doing it because they're having to put down perfectly healthy family dogs, but there's just nowhere for them," says Pam Howard.
In the two years since the 2011 quake, Dogwatch's kennels have been packed with quake refugees.
"We help as much as we can, but the reality is it just doesn't happen overnight," says Ms Howard. "We can have dogs on our books for months before we find them homes."
As for cats, more have been checking in and for longer at feline motels, some staying for over three months.
But it's even tougher for their owners. Currently hundreds of potential tenants are turning up to view and fight for rentals, but if you've got a four-legged family member, you might find you're immediately knocked further down the list.