A landlord has won a bid to have his damaged carpets replaced after urine stains caused by two toy poodles was deemed intentional.
Gary Guo will be paid $10,000 to repair the damage his tenants’ dogs caused in multiple rooms over a “long period”.
The tenants, Grant and Lara Korck, had claimed their dogs were house trained when they moved into the property in Titirangi, Auckland.
But after a long-running battle involving several courts it was ruled that the damage was extensive due to the “number and size of the stains”.
An earlier District Court decision had quashed an order of the Tenancy Tribunal in Guo’s favour, with the court ruling the damage to the carpets was not intentionally caused.
But Guo appealed this decision at the High Court at Auckland, saying the District Court judge omitted to consider the tenants’ representation that the pet dogs were house-trained and would be prevented from soiling the property.
Justice Tracey Walker released her decision earlier this month, concluding the District Court judge made an error of law when determining that because the tenancy permitted the two dogs, the damage by the dogs was not intentionally caused.
The Korcks signed a fixed-term tenancy for a year in April 2017. That was cancelled in December 2017.
Guo was initially reluctant to accept tenants with dogs, and originally declined the Korcks’ application to rent, the High Court judgment said.
But he was eventually persuaded that the dogs were house-trained and the Korcks acknowledged in a declaration emailed to Guo they would pay for carpet cleaning.
“We the Korck family are happy to at our cost get the carpets professionally cleaned on a six months basis … they [the dogs] are walked twice a day morning and night so don’t do any business inside. They are house trained,” the declaration stated.
Justice Walker deemed that the first stain could be considered accidental. However the rest of the stains likely resulted from letting the dogs run free indoors and therefore were intentional.
Guo accepted one or even two stains on the carpet caused by the dogs could be accidental and the Korcks did not set out to damage the carpet.
He relied on the extent of the damage, how many rooms were affected and the number and size of the stains, which suggested the dogs had urinated in the house on multiple occasions over a long period of time.
Justice Walker said that was a reasonable conclusion. “It is also reasonable to conclude that the Korcks knew, after a few episodes of the dogs urinating inside, that further damage was certain if the dogs remained inside. The damage could have been mitigated; it was not.”
The Korcks acknowledged there was some damage to the carpet, however denied the damage was intentional.
They submitted to the High Court that they had gone out of their way to ensure Guo was not out of pocket when they left the property earlier.
They continued to dispute their dogs were responsible for all the damage and maintained the Tenancy Tribunal did not have all the evidence before it.
Justice Walker reinstated the order of the Tenancy Tribunal, but ordered the additional rental of $1000 paid by the Korcks was to be deducted along with the amount of compensation paid to date by the couple.
She also ordered the Korcks to pay $1180 in court fees and an additional $50 for an order application to Guo.
Justice Walker was not prepared to award Guo compensation for the loss of rental over the period of re-carpeting.
This article was first published on stuff.co.nz