A Queenstown couple’s love for their two elderly pet beagle dogs has cost them residence in their swanky home - and $9500.
Jeremy and Chevy Chisholm were taken to the Tenancy Tribunal by the body corporate of the apartment building at Kawarau Falls.
Rules for the building, 1 Alpine Lakes Drive, forbid pets - you’re not even allowed a goldfish.
But “guide, hearing or assistance dogs” are permitted.
The Chisholms argued the dogs, Paris and Nice, provided emotional support for Chevy who suffers from depression and so are ‘assistance dogs’.
They sought advice from a Christchurch solicitor who told them “the body corporate had no teeth anyway”.
How wrong they were.
The body corporate raised $16,000 for legal action from its members - including the Chisholms. It won the case, costs of $8653, and a $850 filing fee.
Jeremy says: “I don’t want to be sour grapes about it.
“I accept we lost in good grace and have paid our costs to the body corporate in full.
“The rules were pretty ambiguous. We pushed it and had to pay.”
The Tenancy Tribunal adjudicator ruled the dogs “must be specifically trained” to provide emotional or physical support to be classed as ‘assistance dogs’.
Paris and Nice are not trained.
The decision says: “I accept without question that Paris and Nice are an integral part of Mr and Mrs Chisholm’s family and consequently have a positive effect on them, and, in particular, a therapeutic effect on Mrs Chisholm.
“However, these are the ordinary effects that come about from owning a pet.'”
The Chisholms have stuck by their dogs - they’ve moved out and are renting at Jack’s Point.
“People get a bit hung up on rules,” Jeremy says. “The reason for the rule was so no one gets disturbed by them, but ours are one step away from stuffed toys.
“They’ve probably only got a year left in them.”
The body corporate had claimed an extra $1000 for the cost of tightening the rules after the Chisholms claimed the beagles were allowed under the original wording. But the tribunal did not impose this cost on the Chisholms, who own unit 101 through their Plata Trustee Limited.
Costs only apply to enforcing rules, not changing them.