All strata schemes are required to make an election in their by-laws regarding whether pets are allowed on the premises and the terms that will apply. The usual options that can be elected are:
- Pets are permitted on the premises with no prior approval
- Owners must apply to the Owners Corporation for prior approval to keep a pet on the premises, and the consent of the Owners Corporation cannot be unreasonably withheld, or
- There can be a 'blanket ban' prohibiting any pets from living in the strata complex.
In the recent case of Cooper v The Owners- Strata Plan Strata Plan No 58068 the court decided that the by-law prohibiting the keeping of all animals in the Horizon Building in Darlinghurst was oppressive and contravened the strata legislation in force. The by-law in question restricted a resident Jo Cooper from having Angus, her 14 year old miniature schnauzer at the property.
The Court held that a by-law which restricts the lawful use of a lot on a basis which has no connection to the impact on other lot owners is oppressive. The prohibition of animals that would "create no hazard, nuisance or material annoyance to others" was therefore unjustified.
Following this case, there have been amendments to the legislation applying to strata schemes. The Strata Schemes Management Amendment (Sustainability Infrastructure) Bill 2021 was passed by parliament on 16 February 2021 and the main proposed changes to start later in 2021 will include:
- A by-law that unreasonably disallows the keeping of animals, will no longer be enforceable or able to take effect.
- Animals should be allowed to be kept on a lot unless it unreasonably interferes another resident's use and enjoyment of their lot or common property.
- A strata scheme can still prohibit the keeping of animals if there are reasonable circumstances
If you live in a strata scheme that has a blanket by-law that bans the keeping of pets, this can be raised with the owners corporation.
The first step for change is to request the reconsideration of the by-law at the next general meeting. Alternatively you could request that an extraordinary general meeting be called for consideration of the change. Once the new legislation is introduced, a by-law that unreasonably prohibits the keeping of animal will no longer be enforceable.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.