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On the Sensitive Subject of Pets

Pets are a challenging topic, as there is a lot of emotion involved. Almost every strata owner has a view on this topic, and it is almost always a strong view, being either “pro pets” or “anti pets”.This piece looks at the role of strata management concerning pets and the new laws around pets in NSW. According to the NSW Government’s environmental department,there are many domesticated & native animals which can be kept as pets. These include dogs, cats, aviary birds and aquarium fish. Although you may be legally allowed to keep a pet within your premises in NSW, it is essential to check what your strata scheme and/or lot owner’s stance is on the matter as this may include a clause restricting pets within the residency.

Some buildings (generally consisting of over 100 apartments) have custom by-laws that provide specific requirements (e.g. an occupant cannot keep more than one dog and one cat, and the dog can’t weigh more than 15kg). However, custom by-laws created by the strata committee are the exception when it comes to the strata pets NSW laws, and owners need to understand this. It’s also essential for all parties involved to remember that by-laws concerning pets differ greatly from the for each strata scheme. If you are unsure of what the by-laws are for your particular building, it is best to ask your strata manager who will be able to clarify.

The NSW government laws surrounding pets within a strata scheme generally state that pet owners need to comply with the by-laws requiring the occupant to apply to keep animal(s). When it comes to strata pets NSW laws that owners need to comply with, most by-laws require the occupant to apply to keep an animal. Normally, the minimum requirements imposed by the strata pets NSW laws in keeping pets, and enforced by strata managers, is as follows:

  • The animal must be microchipped and de-sexed.
  • The animal must be kept within the lot.
  • The animal cannot enter onto common property or another lot.
  • If the animal is to be moved across common property, the animal must be carried by the owner (or transferred if a larger dog).
  • They shall not disturb the peaceful enjoyment of the occupant of a lot or anyone lawfully using common property.

 

It is also important to remember the noise and nuisance that a pet can cause to other residents living in surrounding lots. All owners and tenants have a responsibility to ensure that they are not contributing to a lack of peace, privacy or comfort for their neighbor as a result of pets. If your pet is causing, and you are permitting, unnecessary noise or nuisance, this could potentially result in a breach of agreement of your building’s by-law. Other breaches may also include neighbors being chased and pets breaking into common areas. Both owners and tenants, need to ensure that the lot is appropriate for your pet and any damage caused by pets to common property is reported immediately.

Along with what has previously been mentioned, other frequently asked questions regarding pets in strata schemes include, can strata by-laws prevent someone from keeping an assistance animal? Does Council have a law or policy regarding the maximum number of pets? Does animal behavior and/or presence impact approval or disapproval of application? Regarding assistance animals, the answer is no as preventing an assistance animal would breach Section 9 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 of the Commonwealth. Regarding Council requirements, each policy differs. Therefore, it is best to investigate whether there is an applicable policy for your particular district. Lastly, animal behavior and/or presence does play a part as it is a prerequisite that animals do not impact upon the peaceful enjoyment of the other residents (smells, noise, encroachment, fur & excrement).

To summarise, most strata managements or councils don’t have a clearly defined and enforceable maximum number of pets by-law that an occupant can keep. That being said, all pets in strata must behave in a peaceful manner or the occupant may unfortunately have to remove their animal(s). When it comes to strata pets NSW law, it’s wise for all strata schemes to review and adopt a pet management policy and incorporate this policy into the by-laws. Obtaining and registering a clear, fair and enforceable pets by-law, drafted by a leading strata lawyer is highly recommended.

This information is intended to provide a general summary only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice