A Rotorua grandmother fears her family will be left "homeless for Christmas" after being rejected for rental after rental because they have pets.
But she says these animals are vital because they provide comfort and support for her high-needs grandchildren.
The woman, who asked not to be named to protect the identity of the children, had raised her two grandchildren, 12-year-old twin girls, since they were 6 months old.
One suffered from severe fetal alcohol syndrome that caused small physical disfigurements and brain damage, while the other had ADHD.
The pair relied on their two animals, a cat and a dog that they called "therapy pets" and had been signed off by doctors as "essential", but finding a rental that allowed pets seemed almost impossible.
The family had been living in their Western Heights rental for six years but the landlords had chosen to move back to Rotorua and take back their house.
"Dread" washed over her when she was given notice to be out of the home by December 14 as she knew finding a suitable rental for the family and the pets wasn't going to be easy.
One of the girls suffered from breakdowns and "sleepless nights" at the thought of change and the emotional strain on the family since the news had been huge, she said.
She had applied for 10 rentals in the past couple of weeks and after disclosing that she had essential pets had been rejected for all viewings, she said.
She had scrolled Trade Me for properties every single day with "tears" in her eyes as none allowed the "therapy pets" her girls needed, she said.
She had managed to find a new home for their two rabbits but the girls could not leave the other animals behind.
The pets were "therapeutic" for the children and had been signed off by doctors as "essential", she said.
One of the girls had been speaking with her school counsellor about how she was struggling with the idea of not being able to move with her pets and them having to be put down, she said.
"I really don't think she would be able to handle it. Nothing else settles or calms her down the same. Those pets are a part of the family."
She said it was devastating as both pets were clean, regularly groomed, fixed and had all the vaccinations they needed.
Her biggest fear was being "homeless for Christmas", she said.
Rotorua Property Investors Association president Debbie Van Den Broek said it was common for people with pets to struggle to find a rental in the current market.
As a landlord herself, she had no problem with animals and said: "It is the quality of the tenants that mattered, not the pets."
With changes coming up to the Residential Tenants Act, Van Den Broek said landlords were choosing to go with the "safest option", which many thought was those without pets or children.
She said landlords were commonly "risk-averse" and had heard too many horror stories.
However, she said she had never had any problems with tenants with pets and did her best to help those struggling to find a rental for that reason.
Director at Therapy Dogs New Zealand Wendy Isaacs said cats and dogs often had the ability to "lower blood pressure and anxiety" for people suffering from illnesses like fetal alcohol syndrome and autism.
She said it helped them "regulate their emotions", which was something many struggled to do.
"Therapy animals are so powerful and can completely change a child's life."
Co-director of Rotorua Rentals Pauline Evans said pets in rentals were looked at on a "case-by-case" basis.
She said sometimes it came down to the wellbeing of the animal and the property not being suitable, but also that some homeowners had "bad experiences" that put them off the idea.
She said if the animal was microchipped, registered, had up-to-date vet reports and had references from other landlords, they could get the tick of approval.
She had recently put a family in a rental where the landlord had said no to pets but after meeting the animal, had changed their mind.
"It's about proving that the animal is a member of the family, not just a pet."