A budgie named Henry sings to his owner Denise Alsop on the front porch of her council flat in Puriri St.

"He belonged to my late husband and he's the only company I have now.

"We had two cats and I gave them away when I moved here."

Alsop and some of her neighbours who keep pet birds are upset by the Whanganui District Council's instructions to get rid of their pets.

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"I knew that we shouldn't keep dogs or cats here but I always thought birds were fine.

"When the housing inspector came, she said the budgie is a beautiful colour and nothing about my not being allowed to have him here."

After hearing rumours that birds are not excluded from the no pets policy, Alsop called the council while Mayor Hamish McDouall was in Japan last year.

After speaking with Deputy Mayor Jenny Duncan she was left with the impression that existing pet birds could be kept by tenants but could not be replaced if they died.

"I thought that was fair enough so I'm really disappointed that we have now been told we can't keep them."

When she sought clarification from the mayor last month, McDouall wrote to her saying that complaints had been received from other residents.

"For this reason, Council must invoke clause 2.3 of your tenancy agreement which states that tenants must not keep any animals on the premises or grounds."

The council has now written to tenants stating that they have until May 9 to get rid of their pets and failure to comply will result in a 90-day notice to terminate their tenancies.

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"We will be reasonable in allowing for a fair amount of time for the owners to make arrangements for their pets," a council spokeswoman said.

Alsop's neighbour Bruce Christison said he has already made an attempt to rehome his rainbow lorikeet (also named Bruce) but that has not worked out well.

"I sold him to a bloke who paid me $100 cash and agreed to pay another $200 by bank transfer but now he's refusing to pay and wants to take me to court because the bird escaped.

"I was very upset to have to give him up and now I know he probably won't survive out in the cold weather."

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The tenants say there are three other residents at the flats who have canaries and finches.

Resident Sid Hall said he thinks the no pets policy should be adhered to although he does not have a problem with the birds.

"I love animals - I grew up on a farm and I miss having pets but I think people should stick to the terms of the tenancy agreement."

Mayor Hamish McDouall could not be contacted for comment this week and Deputy Mayor Jenny Duncan said she did not recall her conversation with Alsop.

"It was a long time ago and I don't make the rules on housing policy but I will look into it."