Laura Loos sprays the furniture in her small Rathgar apartment with diluted tea-tree oil.
Dogs hate it, she says, so it helps stop her pooch Ziggy from chewing on the tables and chairs. She has made a tiny home with a small door for Ziggy too.
“So he cannot destroy the apartment,” she says. “I’m being really mindful of the landlady’s property.”
A Dutch woman with no family here, Loos adopted Ziggy during the pandemic and the dog has been a huge mental-health boost, she says.
Banking on her real-estate agent’s written promise that a dog was allowed, Loos had adopted Ziggy two weeks after moving into the building. That was November.
On a Friday morning in mid-March, however, she got an email from the estate agent telling her they would be issuing a formal eviction notice.
Ziggy was the reason, they said.
For the Love of Dog
The pandemic has been traumatic for Loos, she says, eroding her mental health. “Everything was happening at the same time,” she says, from lockdowns to border closures.
When the first lockdown began in March last year, Loos started to worry about her mother back in the Netherlands, who has arthritis, she says.
When borders reopened in June, she flew straight back to see her. And when she returned to Dublin in October, she was determined to get a dog, she says.
She had wanted too since moving to Ireland six years ago, says Loos. “Growing up, we always had a dog, so for the longest time since my old dog passed away, I always wanted a dog.”
Ziggy was frail when Loos adopted him and they’ve a special bond now, she says. “I nursed him back to life.”
He is a six-month-old mixed-breed pup, with a lanky body like the Simpsons’ cartoon dog Santa’s Little Helper and the lively personality of a Jack Russell terrier. He’s also a faithful birdwatcher.
His fur is light brown with white patches. His name is an homage to Ziggy Stardust, the otherworldly alter ego of David Bowie.
Loos had gotten a job at Google last autumn, choosing the company in part because they let staff bring dogs to work twice a week.
But also, more importantly, because the salary would mean she could rent a place on her own, she says.
She left her old shared and dog-unfriendly apartment and found a place in Rathgar.
But her real-estate agents are not making good on their promise, she says. The agency “confirmed that pets are okay, so I went ahead and adopted my Ziggy”, she says.
Right Today, Wrong Tomorrow
On 19 March, an agent at MTS Property wrote to Loos and said they would issue a “formal eviction notice” once level-five restrictions ease.
“Your landlady and the management company have been in touch regarding a dog. This is a break of your contract and they** **are not happy,” says the email.
Loos’ lease says keeping animals is not allowed “without the landlord’s written consent”. As she sees it, she says, the landlord had given permission, through the estate agents who are “acting as my landlord”.
She forwarded proof that she had sent an email to the estate agent last November asking: “I’d just like to confirm that a dog really is okay? I can then transfer the deposit & rent as soon as possible.”
An agent had replied: “yes that’s ok.”
MTS property wrote back later to her too, saying “MTS do not personally have an issue with the dog unfortunately the management company of the building do.”
A spokesperson for Independent Property Services (IPS) Limited, the management company of Loos’s building, said they follow instructions set by “property owners” and that they are only “responsible to them”.
The building’s rule book says tenants can’t keep animals, “which in the opinion of the Lessor may cause annoyance” to those who live in or own other flats.
The IPS Limited spokesperson said: “For the record, IPS Ltd did not serve any notice of termination and is not privy to same”, and that the agency or the owner would be the relevant parties to comment.
A spokesperson for MTS Property declined to comment.
In one email on 22 March, a staff member at MTS Property said that it had received “complaints of a dog barking, causing nuisance to neighbours and dog poo and urine in the hallways”.
Ziggy barked three times during the 45-minute interview, each howl short and low-pitched.
Loos has been training him not to bark, says Loos, and he is taking “obedience training lessons”.
“He’s quite quiet,” says Loos. “You can’t hear him outside of the apartment. I’m training him non-stop.”
The dog has never pooed in the hallways, she says, but before he was “potty-trained” he had an occasional accident, which Loos always cleaned with a “urine stain remover” – and that’s a thing of the past, she says.
Loos says she constantly checks on her next-door neighbour and the tenants above her to see if Ziggy is bothering them. She baked a cake to introduce Ziggy, she says.
“I checked in regularly,” she says, “just letting them know that if it gets too much, come to me because I can find solutions.”
A spokesperson for the RTB said a landlord can terminate a tenancy if the tenant has “breached their responsibilities”, but the tenant should get a warning that gives “the tenant a reasonable amount of time to address the breach”.
Loos says she hasn’t had any warnings or a chance to address the problem, although she had anyway been taking steps to train Ziggy. “They never phoned me to say there were any issues.”
She has reported the problem to Threshold, giving them permission to negotiate with the estate agents on her behalf.
Loos recently found one of the neighbours who had complained and talked to her, she says. “I asked her what I can do to make her life easier because she’s afraid of dogs, but she didn’t answer that.”
She promised to keep the dog on a leash, which always already does anyways, she says. Her neighbour has said, though, that she’s not the only one who has complained, she said.
Some neighbours, meanwhile, have expressed support and solidarity, she says.
Loos says nobody is being clear about how she can help fix the situation. But she owes it to Ziggy to fight for them to stay together, she says.
“He helps me so much with my mental health because I have a reason to be happy,” she says, “to play with a ball and to look at the birds”.