Pets in Properties

3rd August 2023 | By: Dave Smyth

I recently was credit and reference checking a tenancy application and came across this recent tribunal judgement. No one can say they were not warned. From personal experience I can assure you that guinea pig urine is way worse than dog urine. It cannot be removed and any claim for replacement of the damaged carpet will be depreciated despite depreciation not being permitted by IRD. Perhaps something you can ask Blair about since it was National that removed depreciation from all properties but Labour restored it for commercial properties.
Here is the interesting judgement. I have not included the inevitable $2000 rent arrears section of the judgement.

”The written tenancy agreement specifically excluded pets. 18. The landlord’s agent’s declaration records that this was made clear to the tenant before the tenant entered into the tenancy agreement. The tenant did not deny this. 19. As discussed at the hearing, the RTA does not provide any legal justification for a landlord to exclude pets from a tenancy agreement. If the RTA does not allow such an exclusion then a tenant is free to have pets at the property. 20. I sympathise with the landlord’s frustration that a clear term of his agreement with the tenant can be ignored. However, a landlord cannot contract out of the provisions of the RTA. See section 11(1) RTA. 21. The tenant is entitled to retain his guinea pigs at the property. 22. The tenant is reminded of our discussion at the hearing regarding his responsibility to ensure that the presence of his pets does not cause damage to the property. The tenant is reminded that this will include liability for any staining, damage to or flee treatment of the carpet, or any cleaning or treatment that may be required in order to remove any pet smells or residues.”

A major lesson landlords need to learn from this long judgement is no tenancy meltdown is related to a single cause. Bad behaviour almost always goes hand in hand with poor flat mate management by the head tenant and such poor behaviour impacts on rent payments. Afterall rent payment is secondary to having a good life and helping your mates out isn’t it?  If you have multiple issues like rent, pets, rubbish, noise or overloading only apply to the tribunal on the basis of rent. Rent arrears has always been clearly dealt with by the RTA and is inexcusable. Dealing with all of humanities issues in court will annoy the Tenancy Adjudicator who is powerless to change people and may well result in a counter claim that could be hard to defend oneself from.

Glenn Morris
Nelson Property Investors Association

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