Yellow Chicken House

Chicken Keeping – The good, the bad and the egg-ly!

Moving House with Pet Chickens

on June 5, 2016

When chickens become part of the family, it can be a huge source of worry if you live in a rental property as I have recently discovered. Up until now, I have lived happily for the last three years in a rented house with a lovely landlord and landlady who have been incredibly friendly, efficient and professional. They welcomed us and our cat into their property and have let us keep our three chickens in the back garden in an Omlet Eglu Go with an adjoining homemade run. When we initially moved in, the garden was neglected by the previous tenants. Upon closer inspection, it became clear that the garden had been used as a dumping ground for rubbish and an inordinate quantity of dog mess (hidden in various containers for some inexplicable reason!). The grass (what little was there) had grown so long, it had collapsed over onto itself and become a mulchy, rotten mess underneath. Furthermore, upon pulling up the various weeds and removing piles of rotten wood, we uncovered various bottles and broken glass buried in the soil. I can’t help but wonder if the house was home to a secret alcoholic at some point. Anyway, after much hard work, we cleared the rubbish and chopped back the weeds as best we could…then we bought the chickens and the rest was easy. We let them free range for several months and they cleared the ground of weeds, painstakingly examining every granule of soil as they went for tasty niblets and bugs. I set about planting a lawn which turned out splendidly (see my previous post for details)!

My partner was recently offered a great new job in Norwich which means it’s time to relocate. I’ve personally lived in Aberystwyth for 10 years since arriving here in 2006 as a student. I fell in love with the town as most people do but can’t help but wonder what it would be like to be brave and embark on a new adventure, just me and Martin going into the unknown together.

This should be an exciting time but it’s actually been fraught with anxiety for one main reason – I have to find a landlord that will accept pets. In every other respect, Martin and I are the ideal tenants for a prospective landlord. We’re clean, tidy, never miss rent payments, have professional full-time jobs, don’t smoke, don’t receive housing benefits and have no children. Yet because we fall into the approximate 45% of households in the UK that have pets, we are automatically written off as unacceptable by the majority of landlords. Despite the unfair odds stacked against us, we are determined to move house with our pet cat and chickens and have been exploring the options we have obsessively.

So how do we increase our chances of finding a rented property that will accept our pets? My approach has so far been in the preparation stage. I have researched potential rental areas and prices in various areas in Norwich to try and understand what we can afford and where. I have also written a pet CV which is basically a informative document describing our pets, our reasons for moving and our willingness to provide references to prove how grown up and responsible we are. I must admit, it is frustrating that you can be a long-term couple (aged 33 and 28), one with a PhD and academic research profession and the other with a degree and a full time professional consultancy role, part-time business-owners, excellent credit score holders, successfully adulting for a combined 25 years, and yet we aren’t automatically trusted to rent a house because we love animals.

I understand why landlords have their own  frustrations. They worry about hefty cleaning bills from pet hair, spraying, furniture damage and fleas. But animals are not to blame for those issues, their human owners are. Humans allow the accumulation of pet hair through a failure to brush and hoover. Humans fail to spay/neuter their animals and train them to pee nicely in a box. Humans fail to provide adequate scratching posts and stimulation which can potentially lead to destructive behaviour. And humans fail to treat their animals for fleas and other potential health problems. I am more aware of a landlord’s concerns than your average tenant because I would be mortified if a landlord were to assume I am somehow dirty or untrustworthy as a result of having pets. Consequently, I do everything I can to work against that stereotype and keep my animals in impeccable condition. We have offered them additional deposits to put their mind at ease (even though they would never need to use them) and have invited them to see the animals and experience first-hand how they are treated. I would argue that most pet owners make better tenants as they understand the apprehension of landlords towards them and strive to alleviate those fears.

Our plan is to house hunt well in advance of moving, even paying for the two houses to overlap for as long as we can afford if necessary. We feel like we can’t be picky and are obliged to take the first property that will accept us, which seems unfair when we tick all the other ‘desirable tenant’ boxes. Finding the right property is merely the first obstacle. Once we find it, we need to physically move the animals 300 miles to the other side of the country. I’m guessing that my cat and chickens will not travel quietly together in my car so we are considering the logistics of transporting them seperately. I also need to ensure that they are all comfortable and relatively stress-free during the 6 hour journey meaning plenty of rest stops, food and water, reassurance (for me as much as them!) and a smooth transition from car to home environments. The chicken run will need to be pre-constructed which is where the Omlet walk-in run will come in useful. It is unobtrusive and can be put up and taken down easily which should be a major selling point to a new landlord. I’m not constructing any kind of permanent structure which could irk new neighbours or breach planning permissions. The Eglu is attractive and portable meaning easy removal if necessary. Predators are also a major concern as I will simply be unfamiliar with the new area and the dangers it may hold. Omlet – your ‘fox-resistant’ run had better not let me down! I will also be getting Martin to install motion-detection infra-red cameras to monitor any potential predator action in the new garden.

At this stage, the stress and worry is intense as so much is unknown about how things will work out. It has been suggested to me that I re-home the animals in order to become one of the no-strings attached tenants that landlords so crave. But anyone who has ever owned and truly loved an animal will know that re-homing is simply not an option. I understand that some people are left with no choice perhaps due to health reasons or financial difficulties but I feel justified in saying I’ve worked hard to ensure that my commitments to my pets can be honoured. I provide them with the best food, the cleanest conditions, the safest environment and the joy of human companionship. The stress of moving house with pets is a small price to pay to ensure that they continue to have the life they deserve.

 

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