New Polling Highlights Critical Housing Challenges for Pet Owners

Lab retriever with woman

A new survey by St Mungo’s, a leading homeless charity, reveals a stark dilemma faced by pet owners across the UK. Half of the respondents have been compelled to choose between their pets and securing housing, underscoring the severe impact of the housing crisis on those with animal companions.

In the last year alone, 43% of participants reported difficulties in finding pet-friendly accommodation. This issue is particularly acute among young adults aged 18-24, with 70% struggling to find housing that accommodates pets, and 58% facing similar challenges in Greater London.

In addition, nearly half of the respondents (48%) have faced discrimination related to pet ownership, such as rental application rejections, evictions, or being pressured to relinquish their pets, with two-thirds (67%) of these incidents occurring in privately rented homes.

Pets play a significant supportive role during times of instability, as indicated by 86% of respondents who reported receiving crucial emotional support from their pets during difficult periods.

St Mungo’s is acutely aware of the profound bond between individuals and their pets, especially during times of homelessness. To address this, the charity provides pet-friendly housing options to prevent the heart-wrenching decision between securing shelter and staying united with a pet.

Highlighting the human impact of this policy, the story of Arwa Omaren (pictured above with Jacko), a former client of St Mungo’s, illustrates the vital role pets play. After fleeing conflict in Syria and facing homelessness in the UK, Arwa was separated from her golden retriever, Jacko, for three years. They reunited through the efforts of the charity War Paws and have since been inseparable. Before reuniting with Jacko, Arwa experienced severe loneliness and depression. The reunion transformed her life, offering companionship through her subsequent challenges, including homelessness prompted by sudden unemployment and her landlord’s decision to sell the property.

St Mungo’s played a crucial role in their story by offering accommodation that welcomed both Arwa and Jacko. Arwa has since found stability, moving into a flat with her fiancé and starting a family.

Ish Camp, Regional Head at St Mungo’s, emphasised the charity’s commitment: “St Mungo’s proudly accepts pets in our accommodations, recognising them as family members who provide comfort and security. Many, like Arwa, face dangerous situations rather than forsake their companions. Our staff have witnessed significant improvements in the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of our clients who remain with their pets.”

An overwhelming 87% of those surveyed stress the importance of homeless charities offering pet-friendly accommodation, affirming the need for policies that do not separate individuals from their pets.

St Mungo’s is dedicated to preventing such difficult choices by providing suitable accommodation options. Supporting St Mungo’s can help save lives—both human and animal.

Learn more about St Mungo’s campaign during Pet Month and make a donation at St Mungo’s Pet Campaign.

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