pets in strata developments
If you want to keep a pet in a strata development, check that the by-laws are pet-friendly before you commit to living there. Being told by the real estate agent that the building is pet-friendly is not enough.
Pets are permitted in some strata developments but not in others. The following are some considerations to be aware of when investigating whether pets are permitted where you live or are planning to live.
investigate the by-laws
If you’re planning to live in a strata development, it pays to investigate the rules relating to keeping animals for that particular development.
All owners and residents living in a strata scheme must obey a set of by-laws, which may vary from one development to another. It’s important, therefore, to ensure that the by-laws permit pet ownership before you make the commitment to live there.
This is true whether you’re buying or renting. Even if your landlord is happy for you to keep pets, if the by-laws don’t permit them, there’s a good chance your pet will be barred from the building.
Ultimately, being told by the real estate agent you’re dealing with that the building is pet-friendly is not enough. It’s far better that you and/or your solicitor investigate the development’s by-laws to make sure that pets are permitted. This is particularly important if you’re planning to buy a strata property.
Model by-laws may be adopted by an owners corporation (also sometimes known as the body corporate), or an owners corporation can introduce by-laws of their own determination.
By-laws generally include a clause relating to pet ownership. For example, the model by-law commonly used in NSW states: “16. Keeping of animals: An owner or occupier must not keep an animal unless they have the written permission of the owners corporation. The owners corporation must not unreasonably refuse permission to keep an animal.”
A model by-law such as this may be in place in your development but there are many other variations of by-laws relating to pets. Some developments might determine their own by-laws that permit pets with written approval, while others may state that pets are simply not permitted.
lobby for pet-friendly by-laws
In some instances, residents will keep pets in a strata development even though the by-laws for that development state that pets are not allowed.
Sometimes people will get a pet because others in the development have pets and there may seem to be tacit permission. This can be fine until your or someone else’s pet presents a problem to the building, or an anti-pet resident or group decide that the by-laws should be enforced, with the result that pets are not allowed.
In such a situation it may be possible to become involved with the owners corporation and lobby to change the by-laws to be more pet-friendly. It’s always better to work with the owners corporation than to break the rules.
Recommending that a new by-law be adopted whereby pets can be kept with approval in writing from the owners corporation may be one tactic you wish to try. Such a change will generally require a meeting of all owners, who will vote on a special resolution to change the by-laws. The vote must be carried by a majority.
be alert to potential by-law changes
Just as pet owners may want to have pet-friendly by-laws introduced, be aware that anti-pet residents may also want to change by-laws to ban pets.
Some pet owners buy into a development because of its pet-friendly policy, only to discover later that the owners corporation are seeking to ban pets.
This can create a really sad situation where people are faced with the choice of either moving out of their home or getting rid of their beloved pet. If this happens to you, there are actions you can take. You can rally supporters to oppose the resolution (see the case study - battle over by-law changes) and you can seek legal advice.
There have been instances where by-law changes have been executed in the necessary way and the changes have been overturned.