$12,000 damage after tenants set up animal rescue centre without landlord's permission

$12,000 damage after tenants set up animal rescue centre without landlord's permission

New Zealand, $12,000 damage after tenants set up animal rescue centre without landlord's permission, 123news

A landlord has found herself footing the bill for $12,000​ of damage after tenants set up an animal rescue centre in their rental property.

The landlord complained to Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman Karen Stevens​ after her insurer turned down a claim to cover the cost of repairing the damage.

Stevens said the landlord was shocked to find her tenants had caused thousands of dollars worth of damage after keeping at least 20​ cats and four​ dogs inside the house, as well as multiple ducks and rabbits.

But Stevens​ found the landlord’s insurance did not cover loss caused by scratching, chewing, tearing or soiling by household pets.

Stevens​ said it was vital that landlords knew what was in their insurance policies, and that they, or their property managers, were doing regular checks.

“Make sure your tenants abide by the conditions of the rental. Your lovely tenant could be hiding a menagerie of secrets that, in the end, you might well have to pay for.

“Unbeknown to the landlord, the tenants were caring for stray kittens and cats until they could find permanent homes for them,” Stevens​ said.

“The house was uninhabitable from the urine stench and the ruined vinyl floor, which had been chewed by dogs. The damage included a hole in the bathroom floor, that the Tenancy Tribunal found had been caused by a ‘wild’ cat the tenant had kept in the bathroom.”

“The landlord made an insurance claim for the damage. Carpets, vinyl flooring and curtains were damaged, and the floors had to be professionally cleaned, treated with odour treatment and sealed with a specialised paint to contain the stench of urine,” Stevens​ said.

While the ombudsman’s rules mean she cannot name the policyholders or their insurer, the case appears to relate to a property in Sunset Rd​ in Sunnybrook​, Rotorua​.

In November, Tenancy Tribunal adjudicator R Lee​ ruled on a long-running a case involving landlords Jerome King​ and Larisa Yushkova​, owners of a Rotorua rental property.

Lee​ ordered the landlords to pay their tenants $1410​ including exemplary damages for an instance of unlawful entry by Yushkova​, and their failure to meet insulation standards.

A cat rescue centre called Furever Family​ had been run at the landlord’s property, Lee said.

“Approximately 20-24​ cats and some dogs lived at the property, inside and outside. The tenants did not hold the council permit to run a cattery,” Lee​ said. “The tenants accept they kept a wild cat in the bathroom for a period that chewed a hole in the floor.”

In June last year King​ and Yushkova​ filed an application seeking compensation of $17,906.38​ for repairs to damaged fixtures and fittings, as well as exemplary damages for their tenants using their property for an unlawful purpose, which was running a cattery.

Lee said at the third hearing of the case in September​, King​ and Yushkova​ “willfully interrupted” the tribunal adjudicator, raised their voices, and objected to being told they needed to provide evidence of their losses.

The landlords did not come to the fourth hearing in October​, Lee​ said.

Instead, they sent the tribunal an email to say they were withdrawing their case in order to lodge a claim in the District Court.

While the insurance policy investigated by Stevens​ did not cover damage caused by pets, a case from the Tenancy Tribunal in May showed some policies did.

In that case, the landlords had claimed for repairs to a deck of $2952​ which was a result of scratching damage caused by the tenants’ dog, and rot damage under part of the deck where the tenant had put a large piece of plywood, possibly as support for a dog kennel.

The landlord’s insurers accepted the dog damage but not the rot, the tribunal said.

Rescue animals figured in one other recent tribunal case from Dunedin​ in March​, in which the tribunal ruled a landlord had been within his rights to deduct $250​ from a tenant’s bond to pay for carpet cleaning in a room which had been used to temporarily house rescue cats.


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