TWO pensioners have been left in fear of being evicted from their home — because their dogs barked.
War veteran and cancer victim William Bowerbank, aged 77, and his partner Carole McLean, both of Hazel Avenue, Woolfold, received a sternly worded letter from Six Town Housing just before Christmas.
And when Mrs McLean called a housing officer to ask why they had not investigated allegations before sending the letter, she claimed the the response was: “It’s Christmas and I’m off home.”
Six Town Housing bosses have apologised to Mrs McLean for offending her, but have refused to back down.
Mrs McLean, aged 63, said: “The way they have handled it is appalling.
“How can they say it is bad that my dogs bark? What else would you expect a dog to do?
“My dogs only ever bark when someone comes to the door. I have special collars that send them an unpleasant shock if they bark and they are well behaved,” she said of whippet Sally, a rescue dog she got 10 years ago and brindle boxer Tax she got from a rescue home 12 years ago.
On December 23, Mrs McLean received a letter from Six Town Housing.
She said: “I thought it was a Christmas card but that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
The letter, from Alison Krupnyckyj reads: “May I draw your attention to your tenancy agreement, which states that allowing your dog to bark is a breach of your conditions of tenancy?
“I have received a complaint that your dog is causing nuisance to other residents by barking at different times of day, including late at night.
“With your co-operation, it will be possible to address this matter before it escalates.
“Should any further complaints be made, the case could be passed to the anti-social behaviour team for enforcement action.”
Mrs McLean said: “I was gobsmacked by the tone of it. My dogs do not bark at night.
“When I asked Alison if she would investigate the allegation, she said ‘oh no, it’s Christmas, I’m off home’.
“I’ve been living here for almost 10 years and have never had a problem.
“A dog that belongs to a couple in the houses behind mine barks all night long, but it doesn’t bother me because I’m a dog lover.”
Victor Hagan, a Bury UKIP campaigner took up Mrs McLean’s case and put in a complaint to Six Town Housing.
He said: “A few years ago, it used to be that the process was to send a nice letter in the first place, try a little bit harder if there was no success and then, if there was still no success, send a third letter saying action will be taken. This is no longer applied.
“The member of staff seems to have taken the word of a complainant and right away said it is a breach of tenancy.
“This couple are now wondering if they will lose their home because their dog barks.
“Is this ‘no barking’ rule real and applied to all tenants?”
A Six Town Housing spokesman said: “We treat complaints from customers very seriously and, on this occasion, the continuous dog barking during both the day time and night was disturbing their neighbours.
“We do not believe this is acceptable.
“Tenants should not have to tolerate such unreasonable behaviour and we felt it was important to remind Mrs McLean of the terms of her tenancy agreement, which supports responsible pet ownership.
“We are sorry if our letter caused any distress, as this was not intended.”