Rules On Having The Puurrfect Companion In Your Strata Managed Property

20 February 2020

Did you know that Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world? According to the RSPCA, Australians own over 29 million pets nationally, with 61% of households being home to a furry companion. It comes as no surprise, then, that many residents in strata housing also wish to own a pet.

Legislative reforms around pet ownership

Traditionally, owners and residents of strata units have faced a range of restrictions when it comes to the by-laws regarding pet ownership. However, in 2016, new strata laws were introduced with the aim of making it easier for strata residents and renters to own pets. Since then, the NSW Department of Fair Trading has taken a friendlier view towards pets, and encouraged owners corporations and strata plants to allow pets. Under the new legislation, owners and occupiers have two options:

Option A

  1. An owner or occupier of a lot may keep an animal on the lot, if the owner or occupier gives the owners corporation written notice that it is being kept on the lot.
  2. The notice must be given not later than 14 days after the animal commences to be kept on the lot.
  3. If an owner or occupier of a lot keeps an animal on the lot, the owner or occupier must:
    1. keep the animal within the lot, and
    2. supervise the animal when it is on the common property, and
    3. take any action that is necessary to clean all areas of the lot or the common property that are soiled by the animal.

Option B

  1. The owners corporation must not unreasonably withhold its approval of the keeping of an animal on a lot or the common property and must give an owner or occupier written reasons for any refusal to grant approval.
  2. If an owner or occupier of a lot keeps an animal on the lot, the owner or occupier must:
    1. keep the animal within the lot, and
    2. supervise the animal when it is on the common property, and
    3. take any action that is necessary to clean all areas of the lot or the common property that are soiled by the animal.
  3. An owner or occupier of a lot who keeps an assistance animal on the lot must, if required to do so by the owners corporation, provide evidence to the owners corporation demonstrating that the animal is an assistance animal as referred to in section 9 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 of the Commonwealth.

What do the by-laws say?

As per the above legislation, owners corporations now have a number of ways in which they can approach pet ownership. They can:

  • Ban pet ownership completely (except for assistance animals)
  • Allow owners to keep pets as long as they provide 14 days’ notice
  • Allow owners to keep pets with written permission by the owners corporation

Moving forward, schemes will now be actively encouraged to review their by-laws and allow animal ownership in the building. Furthermore, it appears that tribunals are also learning towards pet ownership, as shown in the recent case of Roden v The Owners-Strata Plan in which the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal found that by-laws entirely banning pet ownership were “harsh, unconscionable and oppressive”.

It is important to note that regardless of any by-laws, individuals who require a trained and certified assistance animal are allowed to own one. In addition to guide dogs for sight-impaired individuals, this can also include animals that offer support to those with other conditions including psychiatric disabilities.

Do you have questions about the by-laws concerning pet ownership on your strata property? Get in touch with our team today for more information on our range of strata services or explore our document bank for more information.