It's a dog's life when renting
Nessa Walsh with her children Eliza, Charlie and Joey Curran, and their dog Bjork at home in Blackrock, Co Dublin
Living in an apartment shouldn't mean you can't have a pet - as long as it doesn't cause trouble for others
An upscale block of apartments in Dublin's Grand Canal Dock has a strong dog policy: it welcomes them. "We've gained from doing so," says letting agent Owen Reilly, who advised the company which owns the 84 €2,000-a-month apartments in The Marker building to have a pro-pets policy.
"We're targeting foreign corporate tenants," he explains, such as the Americans and Europeans who work in nearby Facebook and Google. "They are surprised that if they want to live in an apartment, they can't rent if they have a dog."
Roisin McDonagh, proud owner of two-and-a-half-year old Labrador Roxie, has been looking for an apartment to rent for more than a year now - and is shocked at the number of landlords, mainly apartment owners, who do not allow dogs. She got Roxie when she was living with her boyfriend in a house in Kildare, and moved temporarily into a small house after they split. That was more than a year ago, and now 30-year-old Roisin has moved back home to the south-east to live with her parents while her hunt goes on.
What she wants is to rent an apartment (not in Dublin) for around €400-€500 per month, "the only realistic rent for a single person. Of course not all dogs are house- trained or well behaved indoors but it's very unfair for property owners to discriminate against all dogs. It's a common misunderstanding that a dog needs a garden, it does not, and can easily live in an apartment once exercised daily, with a before-bed toilet trip outside".
Roxie, she says, is highly trained in every way including toilet-trained; she "behaves herself during the day while I'm at work and sleeps in my bed at night."Roisin is planning to go back to college to study veterinary nursing: doing work experience with a vet, she's been reassured that dogs adapt to being left on their own for hours.
Roisin believes that people, especially those who live alone, feel safer having a dog to deter intruders: "It's about time, in 2013, for landlords to relax their 'no pet' rules, especially if you can prove your dog is better behaved than any human they could be renting to."
It doesn't seem as though Irish landlords are ready to ease up on a "no dogs" policy anytime soon, however, unless as in The Marker (where about eight apartments are let to people with dogs), a tenant is willing to pay top dollar. Dublin-based letting agent Igor Fleming says that generally, most tenants sign standard leases with a "no pets" clause in them.
However, "a landlord getting €2,000-€3,000 a month for a large penthouse might ask for a large security deposit and turn a blind eye if someone brought in a dog" - with the proviso that it's the tenant's responsibility to make sure the Owners' Management Committee (OMC) isn't upset.
Some Americans and European renters come armed with references for their pets, he says - "John the terrier is a lovely pet and has treated my property really well" sort of thing. Fleming would usually look for a house for these renters.
People renting houses make their own letting rules, and generally it's agreed that pet lovers will rent to other pet lovers.
Nessa Walsh, her husband, three children and one dog, Björk, have been living in a rented house in Blackrock, Co Dublin, for three years. "We rented it, unfurnished, through an agent and forgot to tell him 'til the last minute that we had a dog," she explains. "But the owner said that as long as there were no complaints from the neighbours, that was okay - she didn't ask for an extra deposit or anything. All our dealings with her have been very positive, and there are lots of other families with dogs on the road."