Families forced to give up beloved pets in midst of rental housing crisis

The rental housing crisis is forcing some desperate families to give up their beloved pets in the struggle to find a house that will allow animals.

With TradeMe figures showing rents around the country hit an all-time high in January, it's the latest sign of the ongoing housing crisis the Government is struggling to get under control.

Caitlin Snodgrass, 24, is all too aware of the stress of looking for a dog-friendly rental. She's been looking for three months.

Ms Snodgrass adopted rescue dog Mia two years ago, and now the pair are inseparable.

"The first night [Mia] was ignoring us sitting in the corner and suddenly she just crawled up on the couch and lay on top of me and went to sleep, and I was like, 'Ok, this is it - this is my best friend," Ms Snodgrass remembers.

"I'm on Trademe every single day and I'm constantly refreshing the latest listing that say 'pets OK' for anything in Auckland."

She's looking for a place for her partner and the dog anywhere in North, West or central Auckland. "I'd say she's a better tenant than half of the humans out there," Ms Snodgrass said.

Ms Snodgrass has one more week to find a place. She'll be moving into a family member's garage until they can find one.

If you are a landlord with a one to two-bedroom dog-friendly property to lease to Caitlin, email annabracewellworrall@mediaworks.co.nz

But it's not just Auckland. The rental crisis is hitting most of our major cities. The start of 2019 saw record high rents in Wellington, Waikato and Nelson too.

A simple TradeMe search demonstrates the problem. Search Wellington rentals on Trademe and 801 listings show up. Search 'pets OK' and it drops to just 84 - a tenth of the total options. Even then, many say pets are 'negotiable' - pet owners still have to compete with the general population.

At Cats Protection Wellington, Team Lead Delwyn Monk says tissues are always on hand for families who have had to part with a beloved pet.

She pats a 10-year-old black and white moggie who came to the shelter with her daughter - a sweet seven-year-old. The cats were surrendered by a "lovely owner who was very very distressed to not be able to take her pets with her."

"Around a quarter of the cats on our waitlist are there for exactly that reason - that they can't find rental accomodation where they can take their animals," Ms Monk said.

The SPCA told Newshub it gets calls every week from families forced to abandon their pets to secure rentals.

The Property Investors Federation told Newshub it'd like to see more landlords open to taking pets. It says people with pets can be great tenants.

The Government is considering making renting easier for people with pets. Legislation is expected later this year, but it could be 2020 before any changes come through.

"Pets are an important part of people's families, but at the same time, acknowledging that landlords absolutely are concerned about protecting their asset," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Newshub.

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