Two women who gave away 11 "difficult" chickens and a rooster which came with a west Auckland lifestyle property they rented have been ordered to pay compensation to their landlord.
In a recently released decision by the Waitakere Tenancy Tribunal, Ruby Treacy-Cox and Carmel Treacy were ordered to pay landlord Alacer Ltd $100 for giving away the dozen poultry without permission.
Both landlord and renters made applications to the tribunal regarding a number of issues around bond payment, rental overpayment, property damage and compensation for getting rid of the backyard flock of chickens and the rooster.
Treacy-Cox and Treacy, who lived at the Valley Rd property in rural Waimauku for two years before moving out last October, said they were offered the birds as part of the tenancy and took them on.
However, they soon found them difficult and gave them away.
They acknowledged they did not ask the landlord before doing this because they did not realise the birds - six brown shavers and six heritage birds, including a Rhode Island Red rooster - were listed as chattels.
The landlord, represented by Luke Atkins at the hearing, claimed $480 saying that this was what the 12 birds could have been sold for.
Tenancy Tribunal adjudicator Nicola Maplesden found while they were included as part of the tenancy the level of compensation sought was too high.
"The tenants did not point to any evidence that the landlord had said that they
could dispose of the chickens if they no longer wanted them. However, chickens have a limited lifespan and the landlords were happy to include the chickens in a tenancy of two years duration. They must have expected that by the end of that time, the chickens would have had little value. It is arguable that for this reason the landlords have not lost anything," wrote Maplesden in her written finding.
But taking into account the tenants had already paid $50 in compensation for the missing chickens in their bond refund, the adjudicator awarded the landlord an additional $100 compensation in recognition that they should have consulted before giving them away. It was also possible that the landlords could have sold the birds if given the opportunity, she wrote.
Using Trade Me second-hand poultry sales as a guide Maplesden calculated compensation for the six brown shavers and six heritage birds, using their age in relation to expected egg-laying lifespan, to factor in depreciation.
"In the absence of clear evidence, I have assumed that the brown shavers were half way through their laying life and the heritage birds one-third of the way through. This equates to depreciation of 50 per cent on the shavers and 33.33 per cent on the heritage.
"I assess the second-hand sale value of the shavers at $10 each and the heritage at $30.
"Depreciation reduces these values to $5 and $20 respectively – a total of
$150 value for the 12 birds," she found.
Alacer Ltd was ordered to pay Treacy-Cox and Treacy $640 immediately after a repair to a damaged garage door and compensation for missing chickens was deducted from a $890 rental overpayment. All other claims were dismissed or withdrawn.