Housing New Zealand tenants Lara Elliott and Shane Wilson
with their dog Mischief in Dunedin yesterday. The couple
are relieved their dog has escaped the tough new Housing
New Zealand regulations on dog ownership. Photo by Stephen
The leash has shortened as the Government tightens its
policy on dogs in state houses.
Housing New Zealand (HNZ) documents released under the
Official Information Act revealed a plan to allow dogs to
live at a state house only ''in exceptional circumstances''.
HNZ considered dogs a ''barrier to independence'' that made
it difficult for tenants to ''move on'', the document
HNZ estimated about 40,000 dogs lived at state houses in New
Zealand in 2012.
About half of HNZ tenants in New Zealand owned a dog and
about 38% of the dogs were there without HNZ permission.
An HNZ executive team agreed last November any tenant who
kept a dog without permission after being warned could be
issued with a 90-day eviction notice.
A tenant would need written permission from HNZ to keep a
puppy of a permitted dog.
If a puppy was kept without permission, a ''notice to
remedy'' would be issued to remove the animal, a document
HNZ tenant Chanel Brogan, of Wakari, said she was ''gutted''
when HNZ declined her request to get a dog last week.
She had planned to rescue a dog destined to be put down.
''I'm a grown adult - I feel discriminated against,'' she
HNZ tenant Lara Elliott, of Andersons Bay, said she rescued
her dog Mischief as a puppy while living in private rental
Mischief was registered and microchipped and Ms Elliott got
permission seven months ago from HNZ for the dog to move with
her into a state house.
Stopping her from having a dog would be ''devastating'', as
she had muscular dystrophy and a dog was comforting for her.
''If I had to give up my dog, I'd be heartbroken. They are a
part of you.''
The HNZ documents said a dog could be kept if it assisted a
person with a disability or was ''important to therapy for a
mental illness or other chronic health condition''.
The document revealed HNZ deemed some dogs a ''health and
Between July 2011 and June 2012 there were 37 ''dog-related
incidents'', including one leaving a HNZ staff member and
four contractors requiring medical treatment.
HNZ lower South Island manager Kate Milton said tenants were
discouraged from owning dogs.
''Dogs can cause damage to our properties, they can be a
nuisance to neighbours and they can make it difficult for our
tenancy managers or contractors to visit our properties.''
Many state houses were unsuitable for dogs, she said.
Although dogs played an important part in the lives of many
tenants, it was not an easy rule to enforce. HNZ's ''first
principle'' was not to allow dogs, she said.
''We ask that our tenants respect this approach.''
Dunedin Dog Rescue manager Michelle Hagar said it was
''disheartening'' an HNZ tenant could be refused dog
A petition had been started asking HNZ to change its dog
policy to allow tenants to own registered, microchipped and
The petition had been organised to ask the Government for the
policy change, she said.
Criteria for having a dog
A dog is welcome in a state house if . -
• It has been trained to assist a person with a disability
• It is important to a tenant's therapy for a mental illness
or other chronic health conditions.
• It has been at a property for many years and has been
present at inspections.
• Decision to grant permission made on a case-by-case basis.