Angela Beer and her van collect dogs from Auckland’s suburbs. Photo / Supplied
A posh doggy daycare serving Auckland’s wealthiest suburbs is facing eviction from its manor-like headquarters in the country with claims it “tried to hide” dogs when a rental inspection was carried out.
The claim was
made during a Tenancy Tribunal hearing at which rental managers Barfoot & Thompson asked that Angela Beer and her Pets & Pats business be told to move out.
They claim she has never had permission to run a business from the property and – even if she did – that the impact of Pets & Pats on the neighborhood was so great she is in breach of her rental agreement.
Beer is fighting eviction, denies she tried to hide her business and wants to run Pets & Pats at the rural Dairy Flat property, which hosts dogs for overnight or day stays.
She claimed her original tenancy agreement – made through a different real estate agency – allowed the business to operate since it started in 2015.
Neighbors to Pets & Pats supported Barfoot & Thompson at the tribunal testifying that barking ruined their rural bliss and claiming dogs had jumped fences and, in one case, attacked horses.
“This isn’t someone’s Pomeranian yapping all day,” said Amanda Green, who lives next door. Instead, the noise from Pets & Pats sounded like a “large pack of dogs fighting for dominance” and now “our community is at breaking point”.
Green said – as did other neighbors – that barking began about 7am and increased through the day as overnight dogs were joined by those dropped off. She said it continued until mid-afternoon when day-stay dogs started returning home.
“I can hear the sound through the closed windows, through the drawn thermal drapes.”
Green said she carried out her work in the United States from 4am and barking was so loud clients commented on it while on calls.
“By 11 o’clock, it is so loud that I’ve had to move a call into my closet. What we hear is not usual barking.”
Green said she could also hear staff shouts amid the barking with words like “shut up” and obscenities. “It’s constantly toxic. The injustice of the situation and the lack of care for the community is upsetting.”
Bruce Turner, who shares a paddock fence with Beer, said two horses on his property had been attacked by dogs that escaped from Pets & Pats. He said it was one of three perimeter businesses.
He estimated around 100 dogs were on the property and issues from neighbors could be gauged by complaints to Auckland Council. Turner said the council had received 159 complaints since Christmas from 20 neighbors.
Turner said the dog barking was loud enough to wake his household when it started at 7am. It had become so stressful his wife was training to develop “mental resilience techniques”, he said.
Barfoot & Thompson’s Denise Zhu spoke of difficulty getting into the property to carry out an inspection after she took over management of the tenancy in December 2021.
Zhu said the Beach Haven office had managed the tenancy from June 2021 and it had still not been inspected when she took it on. Lockdowns had made access difficult as did, she said, Beer’s insistence of an eight-week notice period.
In February, Zhu sent a letter warning of an imminent inspection. When she arrived, the front gates were locked and she couldn’t get in, having no keys for the property. A staff member contacted Beer in Rarotonga and Zhu was eventually able to carry out an external inspection.
Zhu said she saw about 100 dogs. “I had no idea about this dog daycare business.” The outcome was a letter notifying Beer she was in breach of her residential tenancy agreement.
In April, Beer was told she was believed to still be in breach of the agreement because dogs were still on the property.
Another 14-day notice letter was sent in May after another inspection during which no dogs were seen – or at least, not until later when Zhu’s branch manager Bronwyn Ashdown saw Pets & Pats’ vans returning to the property.
Ashdown presented a statement from a former staff member detailing the efforts they were driven to remove signs of large numbers of dogs ahead of inspections.
Beer’s lawyer John Hogan said a misunderstanding had coloured the case – Barfoot & Thompson saw the removal of dogs and their paraphernalia as trying to hide the business while Beer saw it as an effort to present the property in its best light.
The case for eviction was based on alleged breaches of the tenancy agreement including the claim Beer was breaching a legal covenant on the land that forbade commercial kennels and that no business was meant to be running from the property.
Other claimed breaches were that dogs disturbed the peace enjoyed by neighbors and that the dogs there exceeded the three for which she was given permission.
Hogan presented emails from 2015 between Beer and a different rental agency which he said showed she had permission to run the business. She said she had six rental agencies and nine rental managers since moving in late 2015.
Beer said the covenant issue was one for the district court and claims of resource consent breaches were being heard by the Environment Court. The issue for the district court was one of the right to run her dog business which had been agreed in 2015 as a trade-off for three non-consented dwellings on the property, which could not be tenanted.
Beer asked the tribunal to throw out the case saying: “I cannot emphasize how unfair and stressful this application has been.”
She said neighbors had exaggerated dog numbers with only five on the property most mornings and the day-stay dogs present for about four hours a day. She also denied there had been attacks on stock.
“These are neighbors who complain constantly to council. I feel it is very unreasonable – the amount of bullying and the amount of complaints. It is a consistent strategy.”
Beer said they had banded together to push her out and were using Auckland Council and the Tenancy Tribunal in lieu of paying for lawyers.
She said there was no evidence that noise from the dogs had upset their lives while she had twice paid for acoustic checks on the property, which did not show limits exceeded.
“I understand my neighbors are upset but they don’t live in a residential zone.”
Adjudicator Joon Yi has reserved his decision.