Published on February 18, 2014 | by Emma Francis0
Furry friends sneak past landlords
Should students be allowed to keep pets with them while they’re renting? ALN’s Emma Francis reports.
When you leave for university, one of the home comforts you can miss the most is your furry friend; studies show that owning a pet can make you healthier, happier and help reduce stress – and in the cold weather they make great portable heaters. However, most student halls and landlords do not allow pets, especially in London.
LCC BA Journalism student Ruby Sigurdardottir, like many other students living in rented property, is ‘technically’ not allowed any pets, but she was so desperate for one she bought a rabbit, named Boston.
“The landlord doesn’t actually know,” laughs Sigurdardottir. “When we moved in, there was a cat flap there so we didn’t think the landlord would mind too much if we brought home a little rabbit.”
Boston helps her to get through her studies by coming to sit on her lap while she reads, and she finds him “really helpful to have around if I’m having a stressful night.”
Much to the disappointment of many students, UAL has a ‘no pets’ policy in its halls of residence; Southampton University is one of the very few universities in the country that isn’t so strict on pets, being the proud owners of two cats across their halls of residence – Susu and Monte.
“The Monte cat does not officially belong to the university, it is more of a stray cat that has been taken in by students over the years,” says Hannah, a staff member at Southampton University. “It sleeps in some of the many different buildings that make up the halls, but only in the students’ rooms if they bring him there, usually drunkenly!”
Universities may opt out of allowing pets on campus due to costs and to avoid excluding people with allergies.
Hannah explains that those factors can be easily avoided: “The students feed the cat leftovers mostly, but it does not affect people with allergies as the students just don’t let the cat in if one of their flatmates has an allergy.”
Andy Cole, a Graphic Design student at Chelsea, bought a rabbit with his five housemates for their house in Peckham.
“We were considering getting a cat, but then we just came home from uni one day and were like ‘shall we get a rabbit?’ We just went over to the shop and got him for £30,” says Cole.
Similarly to Sigurdardottir, the landlord does not know about their animal addition: “We have to hide him every time he comes round,” Cole reveals.
Cole thinks that it’s a great idea for students to have pets in their accommodation if they want them: “It’s so much fun. [Our rabbit’s] hilarious. The downside is it’s a bit annoying at Christmas and stuff unless someone can take him home with them.”
Sometimes the unplanned costs of having a pet can come as a surprise: “We all went away for Christmas and this girl was looking after him but he started pooing out white stuff so she took him to the vet and got him vaccinated. It cost £100 to get that so we all had to chip in.”
So before you go and buy a bunny, be sure to consider all the costs it could involve. Although pets have been proven to reduce stress, circumstances like this could still cause you pressure, especially if you’re on a tight budget.
If you think having a pet is too much responsibility but you still would love one, then do what LCF Fashion PR student Ella James did and get sea monkeys instead.
“The reason we chose them is because they thrive on neglect, they are completely free,” explains James.
When it came to making the sea monkeys a part of their flatmate family, they found that there were too many to name “but the first one was called Kimye.”
As an animal lover, James thinks students should be allowed pets: “I feel like having a pet could definitely help with university life. Perhaps not sea monkeys so much but a kitten over deadline period would surely help.”