Information about having pets in strata buildings.
** Please read a more recent blog following the legislation change on 25 August 2021 here **
For those who are, or would like to become, a pet owner in a strata scheme, here are the facts you need to know according to the NSW Fair Trading.
“Before the commencement of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015, there were three model by-laws regarding pets. These model by-laws offered a choice to ban pets, to allow pets with permission, or to allow small pets without permission. One of these by-laws could be registered when the strata scheme was established, however the default by-law was to ban pets,” a NSW Fair Trade spokesperson said.
The RSPCA claims that 63 per cent of Australian households currently own pets and so when the NSW strata by-laws changed at the end of 2016, pet owners rejoiced as a major change was made to default pet to by-laws being in place that allow the keeping of animals, not banning of them.
“The two new model by-laws either allow pets to be kept if the owner’s corporation is notified, or allow pets to be kept with written approval, which must not be unreasonably refused,” the spokesperson said.
“This aims to make it much easier for strata residents to own pets. As with all by-laws, it is up to the owner’s corporation to choose which by-laws will apply in their scheme,” the NSW Fair Trading spokesperson said.
Controlling whether pets are allowed.
The model by-laws provide owners corporations with options to control whether pets are allowed, and on what terms. For example, the owners corporation may choose to have a by-law which:
- Bans pets on the property altogether. Note below advice regarding concerns on whether this is harsh or unreasonable.
- Allows owners to keep a pet and that the owner must provide 14 days’ notice from when the pet has started living on the lot owner’s property, or
- Allow a pet to be kept with the written permission of the owners corporation. This particular model by-law states that the owners corporation cannot unreasonably refuse the request. If they do refuse, they must give the owner written reasons outlining why the pet is not being permitted.
In all cases if pets are allowed, the lot owner must still supervise their pet, clean any common property that is soiled, and ensure their pet is not noisy or negatively impacting on other residents.
Even if a strata scheme allows pets, a tenant always needs their landlord’s permission first.
Important Note regarding Assistance Animals
No by-law can prevent someone using a trained and certified assistance animal, even if the by-laws restrict other pets on the scheme, as long as legal documentation is provided to prove its necessity.
Frequently asked questions about pets in strata
Have the new strata reforms made it easier to keep pets in strata?
Model by-laws now default to allowing the keeping of pets in strata whereas the previous by-laws defaulted to no pets allowed. However schemes that were registered before 2016 may still have their previous By-law regarding animals in place which may restrict pets. There are now though stricter requirements that the Committee and Owners Corporation act in a reasonable manner when making decisions on pet ownership.
What happens if I keep a pet in strata without consent?
You need to consider the individual by-laws in place for your strata and if consent is required and not provided then you are in breach of by-laws meaning you could be forced to remove the pet.
What happens if consent is refused?
If you feel that your application has been refused unreasonably you can apply to the Office of Fair Trading for mediation and if not satisfied, for an Order from the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Further information is available through the office of fair trading here – https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/help-centre/online-tools/apply-for-strata-mediation
How do I apply for consent?
Firstly consider the particular by-laws in place for your strata scheme and consider the right pet to be kept in the particular circumstances. The most common way to apply is to contact the strata manager or Strata Committee with the details breed, size, training and even photos.
If you are considering applying for a pet at a property managed by Strata Life please click the below link to complete an initial application and you strata manager will be in contact to discuss further.
About Strata Life – Strata Management Services
At Strata Life we strive to take the pressure of the day to day running of a strata scheme off of the shoulders of the committee members and owners. Whilst the nature of strata itself does mean that the owners/ committee are responsible for the decisions, the pressure is reduced by having a proactive manager provide guidance with a plain sense approach and quickly actioning issues as they arise.
We appreciate Committee members often have full time jobs and busy lives. Add to this that the strata scheme is often your home where Committee members do not want to have to police other residents.
Our aim is to minimise the work and time where we can, take on the role of reminding owners and residents of the by-laws so that everyone can peacefully enjoy community living.
Our team has extensive experience with properties on the Upper North Shore, Hornsby and the Northern Beaches areas, with excellent local contractors and superior local knowledge.
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Whether you’re an existing client or not, our strata managers are here to help with all matters relating to strata schemes and community living. Our office is open Monday – Friday, 8am – 6pm to answer your call or, for after-hours assistance, please complete our online enquiry form and we’ll get back to you the following business day.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is general information only and not legal advice. The currency, accuracy and completeness of this article (and its contents) should be checked by obtaining independent legal advice before you take any action or otherwise rely upon its contents in any way. Strata Life disclaims any liability for negligence or otherwise in any way connected with this article.