A case involving a pair of urinating poodles has made it all the way to the High Court.
The long-running feud saw landlord Gary Guo take tenants Grant and Lara Korck to court over a claim that their two dogs damaged the carpets in his Titirangi property.
When they moved in at the end of April 2017, the tenants assured Guo that the dogs were house trained and agreed to have the carpets professionally cleaned every six months. They also agreed to pick up all dog excrement on a daily basis.
By December 29, 2017, the tenants had reached a mutual agreement with Guo to cancel their tenancy.
On handover, Guo discovered that the carpet remained extensively stained despite the professional cleaning.
The question of whether the tenants should be required to pay for this staining became the subject of a number of court cases between the parties.
The dispute came down to whether the staining of the carpets met the legal definition of intentional damage.
Under the legal definition, conduct is deemed intentional when it "is deliberate, and not accidental, and the resulting damage ... will be intentional if the defendant meant to cause it or [probably] knew that it was virtually certain to result".
The matter was first heard before the Tenancy Tribunal, with the decision being made in favour of Guo. This was subsequently overturned in the District Court, which found in favour of the Korcks.
The District Court made the decision that because the landlord had agreed to having the dogs in the house, the damage could not be considered intentional.
In making its decision, the High Court found that the District Court had made an error of law in reaching this conclusion.
In explaining the decision, Justice Tracey Walker placed emphasis on fact that the tenants were "virtually certain" that the damage would result.
"The question is – does this encompass damage which the Korcks were aware was virtually certain to happen because it occurred persistently, although it was not the intended outcome?" Justice Walker said.
"In other words, by keeping the pet poodles roaming in the house when, in view of their past behaviour, it was certain that they would perform natural bodily functions, damaging the carpet, should the ensuing damage be regarded as intentionally caused?"
The High Court also noted the extent of the damage, explaining that it suggests not enough was done to stop it from happening.
"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," Justice Walker said.
"The damage could have been mitigated; it was not."
The High Court said that while landlord agreed to have the dogs in the home and conceded that this may have resulted in greater wear and tear, the tenants still had obligations.
"It [the agreement] did not mean that all damage, whatever the extent, caused by the dogs urinating on the carpet is fair wear and tear or unintentional," Justice Walker said.
"I record for the sake of completeness the Tribunal's finding that the carpet had been damaged beyond fair wear and tear, requiring replacement. The Korcks do acknowledge there was some damage to the carpet."
The High Court ordered the tenants to pay $10,000 to Guo for the damage as well as $1180 for the High Court filing fees.