After 16 years of cat ownership plus a decade with a dog in tow, I can confirm that pets are the ultimate barrier to finding a rental property.

Forget about the finer details of utility rooms and en suites, all we need to know is whether they'll take pets. And usually they won't.

Psychotic tendencies or other extreme personality flaws are no issue - it's paws that landlords most abhor.

I wish pets could be viewed on a case-by-case basis, rather than being subject to what is often a blanket ban. Our animals are all elderly. They spend most of their time snoozing. Landlords, give these guys a chance!

We've carted variations of this crew around five previous rental properties and have never had such an issue securing a tenancy. Is it a simple supply shortage/high demand issue (all being equal, who wouldn't choose the prospective tenants that don't have animals?) or are Herts landlords pet haters? Our animals called four different Australian rental properties home without much of an issue, but it seems to be a different story over here.

We hoped that looking at family homes might make the pet-ownership aspect less of a problem - after all, don't most families have an animal or two? We've also been landlords ourselves in the past, and have had Westies, beagles and countless cats cause no noticeable damage over many years.

Friends have suggested outsourcing our animals. They're all ancient though, and could drop dead at any moment. I'd feel awful if we sought temporary foster care, only for them to wheel out their last woof or purr under someone else's guardianship.

Fraud is the other option. An old workmate denied her dog and smuggled him into her flat, parking him at a friend's place when the letting agent came over for a routine inspection. When he spotted the huge framed picture of said pooch on top of the TV she somehow explained it away. I'm not sure I could be that brazen. Especially after writing this.