As community living increases, it is essential to note that by-laws are the fundamental building blocks of how a scheme manages its affairs. Simply, by-laws bind owners and residents to their terms and regulate the use of the common property and lots, none more so than what you may keep in a lot, including pets in apartments.
The NSW Court of Appeal* provided guidance on what may be deemed a fair and valid by-law in the context of keeping pets in a scheme. The Court held in this instance that owners and occupiers are generally permitted to keep animals within their Lot, extending the principle afforded generally to owners and occupiers of freestanding homes.
By-laws used to set a blanket ban on keeping any animals within a property are a thing of the past in NSW.
The Court held that a by-law banning animals infringed on the limitation set out in section 139(1) of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (“the Act”) that a by-law must not be “harsh, unconscionable or oppressive“. This case was the precursor to laws that recognise the changing nature of strata living and the increasing shift towards pet ownership. Fundamentally it is easier for people to keep pets while living in strata property responsibly. Laws introduced following this matter prescribe that an owners corporation can only refuse to allow an animal into the scheme if that animal unreasonably interferes with another resident’s use and enjoyment of their Lot or the common property.
A well-crafted by-law with reasonable and consistent expectations provides certainty for all parties and their obligations. Likewise, when by-law conditions are breached, and there is nuisance, the resident can lose the right to keep their animal on the Lot. Being a responsible pet owner is the key.
If you are a client scheme of Strata Choice, we have commissioned a Keeping of Animals by-law as drafted by a partner law firm, Bannermans Lawyers. Click here to register your interest in a Keeping of Animals by-law for your scheme. This by-law is consistent with the new laws, and your Strata Manager can further advise you on this issue if necessary.
Note that the above information has no bearing on matters concerning Assistance Animals which are exempt. An Assistance Animal (not a companion animal or “pet”) is defined under federal legislation per Section 9 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth).
Disclaimer: The articles and comments in this publication are necessarily brief and general in nature and are not intended to be relied upon by any reader in dealing with a particular problem. Whilst all care has been taken in preparing this publication, the writer and the producers accept no liability for any omission or misguidance.