A Huntly landlord who threatened to shoot his tenant's dog has been fined $500 for breaching the woman's "peace and quiet enjoyment".
The man and his daughter were also hit with another $500 fine for attempting to evict their tenant as a way to get back at her, a recent Tenancy Tribunal decision found.
The father-daughter duo did this by seemingly pretending to sell the rental between themelves so the tenant could be told a new owner had bought the home and wanted it to be vacated, Tenancy Tribunal adjudicator S Munro concluded.
Tenant Jessica Robertson told the tribunal her problems had been building with the landlords over a period of time after she moved into the rental in September 2015.
While the rental was owned daughter Am Ernst, who lived overseas in Australia, adjudicator Munro concluded her father Lance Ernst was actually the landlord.
That was because he lived in the property next door and was the one property managers Riverlands Real Estate dealt with when requesting repairs be made to the rental.
Tenant Robertson claimed that repeated requests for repairs went unmet by the property managers and father Lance Ernst.
This came to a recent head when Ernst threatened Robertson over a request for an electrician to be sent to fix a fault.
Soon-after, the Riverlands Real Estate property manager sent a text to Robertson, relaying what she had been told by Ernst.
She texted that Ernst had told her he might consider getting an electrician in to look at the faults as soon as Robertson began cutting her lawns and putting her rubbish bins out for collection.
He said he was also thinking about pulling down the fence and letting his cows into Robertson's yard so at least they would eat the grass and it would get cut.
"And if the dog attacked the cattle (while they were in there) he would shoot it," the property manager's text to Robertson said.
In a separate text to Ernst, the property manager also wrote:
"After the situation we now find ourselves in, I will need you to call me before going onto the tenant's area as this is a requirement with Tenancy Services as the tenant should have 24-hour notice prior."
"We will not be able to give Jessica notice to move out as this will be classed as retaliatory after threats having been made."
"I realise this has made things difficult for all concerned and I hope that we can all show respect for one another and by sticking to the rules and relationships."
At the tribunal hearing, the property managers Riverland Real Estate claimed Ernst's behaviour on this occasion was just a "one-off" and not a pattern of behaviour.
They also said Robertson had repeatedly been in breach of the tenancy agreement.
That included "an ongoing battle for her lawns and garden, the dog has treated the cottage as a kennel not a house, rubbish bags not put out for collection, smoking inside the door way".
However, adjudicator Munro said there was no independent evidence to support these claims against the tenant Robertson.
"On the balance of probabilities on the evidence before me I am satisfied that the tenant has had her right to peace and quiet enjoyment breached, therefore I find that the landlord has committed an unlawful act," Munro said.
Robertson also claimed the 42-day notice she was subsequently given in September to vacate the rental was "retaliatory".
She said she was earlier advised she would be given a 90-day notice to vacate but that this was ultimately not given because the property managers accepted this would likely be seen as retaliatory because of the earlier threats made against Robertson.
Adjudicator Munro said the tribunal was presented with evidence of a "signed deed of house sale stating that the daughter will sell the house to her father".
However, Munro was not fully convinced the sale had actually been transacted.
"The tenant claims that this notice is retaliatory as the title transfer is not a legitimate sale and is a way of getting 'rid of her'," Munro said.
"There is no independent evidence regarding the legitimate transfer of the title from the daughter to the father and I am concerned at the validity of the 'sale' and I accept the tenant's position."
"Based on the evidence, the landlord, I find has committed an unlawful act."