Can I Have A Pet In My Strata Unit?
Owners seeking to keep pets in their strata units have traditionally faced a range of restrictive by-laws which prohibit pets within the scheme.
New strata laws due to come into force in the middle of 2016 are shaking up the issue of pet ownership, designed to make it easier for residents to own pets.
Major strata reforms passed the NSW Parliament on 28 October 2015, amending model by-laws which carried automatic prohibition of pet ownership in strata schemes.
How the new reforms help pet owners
During the consultation phase, it was noted that many pet owners were being forced to choose between keeping their pet and living in a strata building.
With more than a quarter of NSW residents living and working in multi-unit developments, this was having a major impact on the quality of people’s lives.
According to NSW Fair Trading, the strata reforms remove any reference to a pet ban from the scheme’s model by-laws.
Schemes will also be ‘actively encouraged’ to review their by-laws and seriously consider lifting the existing ban of pet ownership.
Strata complexes will still be able to set their own rules regarding pet ownership, under the new rules. If the model by-law is adopted, however, the scheme cannot ‘unreasonably refuse’ a request to keep a small pet.
Each request and case will be dealt with on its own merits, and schemes will be able to create a list of conditions designed to manage pets within the complex.
These could include cats being kept indoors, and all dog droppings in communal areas being picked up and disposed of hygienically.
Laws covering assistance animals
Under the new reforms, by-laws will not be able to stop an owner keeping a guide dog or assistance animal, as long as legal documentation is provided to prove its necessity.
Along with guide dogs for the sight-impaired, the category includes dogs or other animals which offer assistance and support to those suffering conditions like psychiatric disability.
Permission only extends to well-behaved animals. If the animal creates a nuisance or hazard, owners can be taken to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal for an order which removes it from the lot.
Owners corporations to decide on pets
A single by-law is likely to replace current options, requiring owners to gain approval from their body corporate or owners corporation in order to keep a pet.
The corporation cannot unreasonably refuse such a request, and owners have the option to go to the NSW Tribunal if they think approval has been withheld unreasonably.
There is flexibility for schemes to allow some small pets without the need for approval from body corporate management, including fish, birds and cats.
This will be great news for many residents who love living in strata units as much as they love their pets.
It remains to be seen how well the scheme will run in practice, however; potential exists for numerous disputes about what constitutes a ‘reasonable pet’ and what is regarded as an ‘unreasonable refusal’.