Housing affordability is a dog issue

I’ve been wanting to write this post for some time.  There’s been trouble brewing for a while now when it comes to housing availability and affordability in New Zealand.  But if you’re a dog owner, the problem is usually magnified.

Take this case from the Waikato; a gainfully employed immigrant to New Zealand struggles to find a rental home that will allow both his children and his beloved dog, Blue, to live there.

Welcome dog

In the months and years following the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, the rate of surrenders of dogs increased as people were displaced from their damaged homes.  Most rentals prohibited dogs. (Only now – in 2017 – is the housing market adjusting again with something of a rental surplus.  Creative rental owners are starting to open their minds about dogs.)

Last week, I shared this article on my Facebook page about Millennials, a generation of men and women who are buying homes to secure their futures as dog owners.  It created the highest readership of the page in almost two years, with many of my clients and other readers agreeing that they bought a home because they wanted a secure place to live with their dog(s).

I moved from Auckland to Christchurch in large part because of better housing affordability and the goal of having my own dog.  (In Auckland, the best I could achieve was a regular dose of ‘dog therapy’ by volunteering at the SPCA as part of a regular roster.)

But housing affordability is a barrier to many owning their first home.  Loan-to-value ratios require a minimum of 20% deposit.  If you are already paying a high rent, savings to reach that 20% can be very difficult.  In the Auckland region, I’ve read that many employed people are paying up to one-half of their income in rent.  So much for saving a 20% deposit!

If people can’t find homes that allow pets, what happens to all the dogs needing loving homes?  They face a bleak future.

So in this – an election year in New Zealand – think about housing affordability as a key issue particularly if you are a dog lover or prospective dog owner. If you’ve made it into your own home with a dog, think of those who are still trying.

And if you are an owner of one or more rental properties, you can be part of the solution.  Do you allow your tenants to have dogs?

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

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