State housing tenants ignoring dog ban

03:38, Jan 22 2014

Housing New Zealand has admitted its policy of banning dogs from state houses is difficult to enforce, with two in five tenants caught owning dogs without permission. 

An estimated 38 per cent of state housing tenants had dogs without Housing New Zealand's (HNZ) approval, despite the fact their tenancy agreements stated they could be issued with a 90-day eviction notice if they kept a dog after receiving a warning.

Tenancy services acting general manager Jackie Pivac said it was a "difficult rule to enforce" and the agency did not want to be "unreasonable". 

"We are, and have always been, upfront with our tenants about this and it is in the tenancy agreements that they sign when they first move into a property."

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The state housing provider did not generally allow dogs in its properties, just as many private landlords did not allow dogs either, Pivac said.


"It can make it difficult for people to move onto private sector accommodation."

Tenants were discouraged from owning dogs because of the possible damage they could cause to properties, many of which were not suitable for dogs anyway, she said.

HNZ was also concerned about the potential nuisance to neighbours and the difficulty they posed for visiting tenancy managers or contractors.

"However, we also recognise that dogs play an important part in many people's lives, and we are the first to admit it is a difficult rule to enforce," she said.

The agency took a case-by-case approach and had provided its tenancy managers with example scenarios of when a dog could be allowed to stay. 

The exceptions included guide and disability assist dogs, dogs that had been there for a number of years and had been present during inspections and dogs that were seen as being therapeutic for a tenant's mental illness or other chronic health condition.

"The last thing we want to do is cause distress for any of our tenants," Pivac said.

"We try to be as upfront as possible at the very start of our tenancies, and we ask that our tenants respect this approach."

The Press