Pet Parents Call For Pet-Friendly Homes
Sreetama and Aritra Nandi, based out of Bengaluru have four little 'children'. These children look a little different from yours and mine. But what they have in common is a love for their home. These 'four legged' residents need space and comfort as much as us, but it is difficult to find. One of the the toughest things to find in an apartment or house is space. Lack of space can prove disastrous for a pet but it comes at a premium.
“People raise an eyebrow when they get to know that someone is moving in with pets. A bachelor or a spinster with pets, looking out for a house on rent means there is no chance that they would land up with a home,” says Sreetama. While the prospective tenant may treat the pet as a 'child', for the landlord it is a mere nuisance. A pet means noise and germs.
How much do pets affect a person's renting decisions?
Seira Kaushik is another pet owner and has faced many rejections ever since she decided to move into a house on lease. “Some were curt enough to say that they wouldn't allow pets at home. Some others tried to hike the rents to an extent that I decided to move out. I feel real estate listings should mention whether homes or rather landlords are pet-friendly or not.” At present, Kaushik lives in a relative's house in Pune, paying a monthly rent and still gets nagged about her bond with her pets.
Manik Nag, an advertising professional in Bengaluru could have very well lived in a 1 or 2BHK unit that would have cost him anywhere between Rs 10,500-15,500 per month as rent. Instead he decided to move into a 3BHK house near Vidyaranyapura that costs him Rs 32,000 per month but can accommodate his two cats and two dogs and is a greener area than Whitefield. “Whitefield is closer to where I work but is very polluted. I have opted for work-from-home three days a week so that the commute doesn't get very tedious. I cannot risk the health of my pets in a place that sees a lot of constructions and road repairs day in and day out,” says Nag.
A landlady in NCR, Mrs Srivastava (real name withheld) says that she prefers to keep her semi-furnished house vacant than give it on rent to a family with pets. “I am open about it. There are hygiene issues, the house starts smelling of fur too. I have young children at home and the house I plan to put on lease is just next door. I wouldn't want my children to run into a house full of pets. It is a health hazard.” The Srivastava's have been approached by pet parents twice, both of whom were willing to either pay a higher rent or a higher security deposit.
Sreetama has an answer to this. “Dogs do not eat and destroy walls. Well trained pets are poised and do not keep barking all the time. Some fear pets and others feel that pets create unnecessary noise. I can understand the fear if the house is fully furnished but in that case, home owners can always ask the tenants to leave the house if they have caused any harm. Some projects have a pet-on-leash or no pets in the elevator rules. That's inhuman for somebody living on a twelfth floor.” Interestingly, Sreetama is the managing director of her fashion house, Myrah which is pet friendly too!
“Spayed and neutered dogs may not be as aggressive as the non-neutered ones. Also, if the pets are vaccinated, pets are as good as children and we all put up with children who are moody, sick and grumble at times,” says Vishakha Khanna, a college student and 'mother of two'.
A pet is a fundamental right!
When a Gurgaon based housing society placed a ban on pets, Jaagruti, a Delhi based private trust that functions as an information helpline and street animal first aid/vaccination service providers issued a notice to the society as instructed by the Chairperson of the Animal Welfare Board of India, Ministry of Environment and Forests. Among other instructions, it states that- “If the residents of the society choose to keep pets and are not violating any municipality guidelines/bye-laws in the process, you cannot interfere with that right. In fact, even the general body of residents cannot together divest any single resident of the same. That merely because the power to frame bye-laws is available to the society, you cannot frame bye-laws that are at variance with the laws of the country.”
A Gurgaon Municipal Corporation directive dated 2012 and addressed to Residents Welfare Association (RWA) reads that “under the law, pets constitute family and keeping a pet is a fundamental right of every Indian national.”
Pet friendly projects
On a popular real estate forum, home seekers have been enquiring about pet friendly projects. Just like theme-based homes have made an entry into the Indian market, would pet friendly projects fare well? Although the concept hasn't captured a firm ground, a handful of developers are up for it. But what are pet parents looking out for?
Sreetama says she would like to see dedicated artificial grass parks or a bigger backyard space in villas or row houses to be used by pets. Common areas where pets could socialise would also woo many pet owners to buy or rent such homes.
“Some Gurgaon based parks allow up to four dog-walks a day at a little cost,” says Charan Singh, a local broker. “Even local hangouts are entertaining pet parents and encouraging them to sip their coffee while their children play and socialise. There are many double-income-no-kids (DINKS) who take up homes just for the convenience of their pets but for a lot of others, balancing pets, children, workplace and schools becomes a little difficult and they have to settle for the first priority.”
Do landlords ask for a higher security deposit when pet parents approach them? Although it may not be the right thing to do, Manoj Sharma, owner of a 3BHK fully furnished house says it is justified. “In 2008, I was out of the country when my tenants decided to leave without any prior notice. When I got back, the sofas had suffered extreme tear, the wash area was in bad shape and the paint looked cracked. The security deposit was not enough to take care of the repairs.”
Vidya and Mahim Sathpathy are building a new home. With three different breeds of dogs at home, they are keen on a few things- open areas, hard surface flooring, pet doors that prevent them from running out, built in wash areas, a hidden bathroom and a suitable window view. Pet creches for those parents who are away from home for a long time is also an attraction for many.