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He's a good boy

'It seems they've lost their humanity': Renters hit out at landlords requesting pet rent

Pet rent of €75 has been requested at a Dublin property development and one woman has been told pay a €500 deposit.

FROM HIGH RENTS, a lack of stock and impossible deposits, the rental crisis is very rarely away from the news agenda. 

But a new aspect has been discovered in what some commentators have said is the ever decreasing humanity of the rental market. 

We have spoken to a tenant who has been forced to pay €500 extra in her deposit, others have been forced to pay pet rent and even produce pet references.

Such is the fear factor of speaking about the issue that most of those we have spoken to, landlords, property management and tenants, have all wished to remain anonymous.

One tenant revealed how her landlord has told her to pay €500 extra in her rental deposit and that she will have to leave her apartment because she got a dog. 

The tenant, Addison, who has asked The Journal not to use her real name as she fears retribution from her landlord, is working in Dublin city. 

She has lived in the United States, Belgium and the UK but she believes that landlords and management companies in Ireland have “lost their humanity”. 

“I didn’t have a pet when I signed the lease but during Covid-19 I found it very difficult as I got disconnected from my family and other people.

“I thought that it would be really essential to have a dog for my mental health. I bought a dog and I really tried to convince the landlord, I sent them pictures and I tried to explain the situation. I told them that I am a very responsible person and that I would take responsibility and make sure there was no problem. 

“They just told me that under no circumstance, that they would not even consider it,” she said. 

Addison went a step further and got a medical assessment which backed up her view. 

“I spoke with my GP, he gave me a note that the dog would help with my anxiety and isolation but they still refused. I told them that I make a legal complaint because I have nowhere else to go. 

“They came back to me and said they would allow me to have a dog for a temporary basis for six months, and pay them €500 extra on my deposit and said I would have to move out,” she added.

She said the landlord told her she would have to move out when the six months was over.

Addison said that she works in a well paid job and has come to Dublin to work in a major international company. But she said similar experiences for other colleagues have caused her to not recommend Dublin as a place to work. 

“Irish people are so nice and kind, but there is something going on when I talk to the landlord or the agency, it just seems they have lost their humanity.

“In comparison, in the US, if you have a doctor’s note, under the law they must help you. There is protection under the law. There is no protection under the law here in Ireland for tenants.

“I think the problem is probably greed, and people are especially taking advantage of expats who come to Dublin to work.

“Just recently someone in my team, they were struggling to find a place to rent and they decided to go back home.

“Ireland is losing many good people and the economy will suffer because the workers will not come here. I have a friend from Brussels who is thinking of coming to work here in Dublin, and I told her I could not recommend it,” she added.

Pet references

Pet references are being offered in greater numbers by prospective renters in the hopes of being allowed to live with their animals, The Journal has learned.

It follows news that renters in a Dublin housing development must pay €75 per month to facilitate their pets to live in their homes. A prospective renter spoke to RTÉ’s Liveline last week about how he was told that he would have to pay the fee to have his two cats live with him. 

The development at Griffith’s Wood, Griffith Avenue in Marino, Dublin is operated by Greystar, a US company which has offices in Dublin.  The real estate developer purchased 300 homes at the site and rent, according to a company spokesperson, starts at €2,250 per month. 

The caller to Liveline claimed that he was told by the agency that the €75 per month extra fee for pets would cover any damage done to the property by the animals. 

“While many rental properties do not allow pets or limit them to certain sections, Greystar is pet friendly and allow residents to keep their animals in their homes. Monthly fees or deposits are the norm for modern developments which permit pets and we charge a monthly fee for pets such as cats or dogs which roam freely in apartments.

“The total monthly fee of €75, which is for one or more pets, is to cover soiling and additional wear and tear caused by the pets. There is no fee for pets which remain contained such as gerbils, hamsters, birds etc,” Greystar said in a statement. 

Pet references

The Journal contacted several letting agencies in Dublin, Galway and Cork city. Most refused to comment but one industry insider, speaking anonymously, stated that pet rents are not a regular fixture of rental agreements. 

“My colleagues wouldn’t have come across pet rent. In some other countries there would be an increase on the security deposit to cover the costs incurred from pets in a property,” a source said.  

The letting agent said that it was normal that the cost of repair for damage to properties would be taken out of the deposit at the end of the lease. 

That source said the increase in deposits to cover the cost of wear-and-tear from pets was not unusual. 

The letting agency worker said a couple from South Africa, who traveled to Ireland for work with a multi-national company in Ireland had offered a pet reference.  

“One feature we are seeing a bit more of is with people coming into Ireland for work and looking for rental properties who are producing pet references,” the auctioneer said.  The pet references work in a similar manner to references for humans from previous landlords. 

“They come complete with a picture of the dog or cat or whatever and there’ll be a recommendation saying that the pet is well behaved,” the source said. 

Ban on pets

Labour housing spokesperson Rebecca Moynihan said the practice of landlords charging ‘pet rent’ and the ban on pets in rental properties must end.

“Animals play such an important part in the lives of many and the blanket ban on pets by many landlords and even approved housing bodies is simply unfair.

“This affects everyone, from older people moving into senior citizens accommodation who are asked to give up their beloved furry friends, to families renting who are excluded from ever owning a family pet,” she said. 

Moynihan said charging pet rent is “yet another example” of the power imbalance in the rental market between renters and landlords.

“Renters are expected to put up with extortionate rents, evictions at the drop of the hat and many can’t make the place feel like a home.

“Labour’s renters’ rights bill seeks to change this and level the playing field for renters, including ending the blanket ban on pets in rented accommodation,” she added. 

Housing charity Threshold also supported the Labour senator’s call for a ban. “Pets are good for mental health, relieve loneliness and have a place at the heart of families. There is no reason why tenants should be denied this companionship or charged excessive amounts to keep pets,” the group said. 

The British Government introduced the Tenant Fees Act in 2019 which was designed to control rental cost, but it instead saw landlords adopt the pet rent. There is a similar issue in America, where the Humane Society of the United States offers renters detailed advice on rules around pet rent.  

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