A Glen Eden homeowner is seeking more than $3 million in compensation against his neighbour for keeping well over 100 chickens that he claims has affected his health and ability to sell his house.
Chao Ji Su, 81, says his nightmare began after the neighbour first started keeping chickens on the Great North Road property about 10 years ago.
"It started with a small number, which was fine, then they started breeding them and they multiplied to a point where there's now well over a 100, or even 200," Su said.
"It's a nightmare now, I can't sleep because they crow early in the morning, my property is covered with chicken faeces and my health is slowly deteriorating because of it."
Under current council bylaws, urban properties smaller than 2000 square metres can have just six chickens while larger ones can have twelve chickens. This property was under 2000 square metres.
Su said the last straw was when he tried to sell his property last year but failed, and has now filed a complaint with Auckland Council to help seek compensation.
He wants $1.5 million for failure to sell the property, $1 million for health compensation, $300,000 for medical expenses and $500 for the engagement of fly control services.
Su bought the property for $249,000 in 2005 and it now has a council valuation of $580,000.
Su said he did not know what his property valuation was but believed in the current market he would be able to get over $1 million for his house if the chickens were not around.
He also had not spent $300,000 on medical expenses, but said that would be the amount he needed to fund ongoing treatments.
At the property where the chickens are kept, a woman said she was a tenant and that the chickens belonged to the property owner.
There were "dangerous building" notices pasted outside three of the entrances to the house.
The woman said the chickens were being fed and checked on regularly by the owners, but when the Herald went in with her permission, we found one dead chicken and a dying chick.
She would not comment on the chickens but said she would pass on the reporter's contact details to her landlord.
The woman also said there were multiple tenants on the property, but could not say how many because they "come and go".
In his complaint to the council, Su said the chickens were a major nuisance and a health concern.
"Chickens roam freely in the yard, the roosters are taller than dogs. All their chickens can fly, they fly over to my garden to peck the grass. There are chicken faeces in my garden," Su wrote.
"There are flies coming from the area, polluting my food and spreading infectious diseases."
As a result, Su said he had to undergo two stomach surgeries and has to live with a constant "unpleasant odour" around the house.
"I could not sell my house, my health is deteriorating and I also could not find tenants to earn rental income," he added.
Max Wilde, the council's team manager compliance response, confirmed it received a complaint from Su on February 9 and was reviewing it - including whether to facilitate the request to help with seeking compensation.
"We are aware of the property Mr Chao is speaking of, and have received complaints about poultry at this address in March 2019 and again in August 2019. In both these cases the occupiers removed the poultry from the site," Wilde said.
"Council responded to further complaints received in December 2019 and January 2020 and instructions to remove the poultry have been ignored."
Wilde said the council was now looking at further action to achieve compliance with the bylaw. The maximum fine for breaching the Animal Management Bylaw was $20,000.
"While carrying out an inspection on the property last year we also found the house had been divided into multiple units without acquiring the appropriate consents and a Dangerous Building Notice was then issued," Wilde said.
He said the property was considered a dangerous building because it did not have the relevant fire separation required under the Building Act 2004.
"We have worked with the occupier to reduce the number of tenants and work to address the building issues is ongoing," Wilde said.
"The notice remains in place until such time as all the building issues have been addressed."
He said council had not acted earlier to give the owners time to fix the identified issues and comply, including removal of the chickens.
"As our instructions have not been acted upon, we are now looking at escalating the enforcement process to achieve compliance," he added.