Taranaki Property Investors' Association
The TPIA President Richard Woodd had a small but significant victory in the Disputes Tribunal at New Plymouth on the 3rd October 2019 when he challenged the Lumley Insurance claim payout over dog urine stains on carpet in a Stratford rental.
He was encouraged to file a case and coached by his broker Chris Lane of First Lane Insurance, Blenheim, through whom he purchased the Initio landlord insurance.
IAG (Insurance Australia Group) owns Lumley of which Initio is a subsidiary. When Richard suggested to Chris that he may be biting the hand that feeds him by supporting the action, the response was: “That does not bother me. I support my clients in the first instance.”
And he certainly did, writing emails to Lumleys contesting various points, advising Richard how to prepare his case, and appearing as a witness by phone from the Blenheim Court on the day.
Between them Richard and Chris convinced the tribunal referee Barry Henderson to make an award for carpet replacement higher than Lumleys offered. The pivotal issue was getting three rooms lumped together as one claim, therefore making the landlord liable for one excess payment instead of three.
A settlement figure was agreed by the parties.
The cause was a small, aging, incontinent house dog who appeared to have waited in vain for doors to open, as his tenant owner was mostly bedridden. The severely stained areas were covered by mats and not revealed until the tenant moved out so the house could be prepared for sale. The tenant freely acknowledged the damage and the cause and contributed some of her bond as compensation.
Richard and Chris argued that the damage was not accidental, and that in being caused by tenant neglect, it could only be viewed as deliberate.