Can I keep a pet in a Strata Scheme?

When moving house, ensuring that your new accommodation is suitable for the whole family is a given. For pet owners, this consideration also extends to making sure that the needs of our furry friends are also adequately provided for.

This can become a tricky issue when moving into a strata complex and with multi-density housing becoming more common in the Newcastle area, we anticipate this conundrum will be more frequently faced by our clients.

All strata schemes are governed by by-laws, a series of rules which relate to the management, administration, control, use and enjoyment of the strata property. They cover a range of issues including how smoking is regulated, parking, noise levels, the operation of short-term lets and pet ownership.

Some strata schemes have by-laws that permit you to keep any kind of animal outright. Other by-laws require owners to first obtain the consent of the Owners Corporation before keeping an animal on their lot. Some strata schemes have by-laws which specify the type of animal that is allowed in the lot, and in some strata schemes, the by-laws place a blanket ban on all types of pet ownership.

Can I keep a pet in a Strata Scheme?

The Supreme Court of NSW has recently given a ruling on the matter, thanks to two Sydney residents and their miniature Schnauzer.

The Court held that a by-law that restricts the property rights of lot owners is ‘harsh, unconscionable or oppressive’ unless it could be shown to protect or preserve other occupants’ use and enjoyment of their lots and the common property. The Court further held that just because a by-law may be administratively convenient for the Owners Corporation does not mean that it should be valid nor justify the encroachment of the lot owners’ rights.

A blanket ban on all animals was held to be broad enough to prevent lot owners from using their property in a way which would not, rationally, adversely affect the other occupants’ use of the property. It is difficult, for example, to maintain that a small fish aquarium would negatively impact the other lot owners in a strata scheme.

The decision has prompted the proposal of legislative amendments. A new bill was introduced in 2020 and includes a law which states that a by-law has no force or effect to the extent that it purports to unreasonably prohibit the keeping of an animal on a lot.

The judgment and new bill of course do not minimise the obligation of all pet owners in strata schemes to ensure that their pets are supervised, that they are responsible for and clean any mess and that they ensure that their pet is not noisy nor is it creating a nuisance for their neighbours. However, the Supreme Court’s judgment should cause Owners Corporations to reassess by laws on pet ownership and whether they are overly onerous. Owners Corporations may otherwise run the risk of NCAT proceedings being brought against them.

If you have any concerns about the by-laws for a strata property that you are hoping to purchase or you currently live in, Contact Us on (02) 4943 3988 today. We can provide you with professional and friendly advice about your rights and remedies.

This blog was written by,
 Chris Berryman
Chris practises in the areas of Conveyancing and
Business & Commercial Advice

ConveyancingProperty LawStrataUncategorized

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