The Pet Dilemma

Pets, together with parking and parties are one of the 3 Ps in strata and community living that is debated the world over.

The NSW Court of Appeal’s overturned Horizon’s no pet by-law earlier this month. They found that the blanket ban on pets to be harsh, oppressive and unconscionable  As such there has been much discussion about what is fair and what is right.

The concept of by-laws is to set the rules of occupation within strata and community schemes. The idea is that owners should choose via a democratic process on how certain things are done within their scheme. By-laws can be altered at a general meeting with a special resolution. Special resolution means that not more than 25% of the owners have voted against the motion.

We saw a change to more favourable pet by-laws with the 2016 strata legislation. Whilst the adoption of the 2016 model by-laws are rare compared with bespoke by-laws, we have noted that generally, new schemes are allowing pets with approval.  More recently we have observed the emergence of approvals not being required as long defined guidelines are met. Interestingly our strata managers have only had a few cases in 2020 where they have had to deal with non-compliance with pet by-laws.

Given the media on the Horizon case, our main tip is to review your pet by-laws and establish or look to improve your guidelines. This is consistent with the recent update of NSW Fair Trading’s online information.

No pet by-laws

If your scheme has a no pet by-law we strongly recommend that you spend the time to record the reasons for your by-law and consider circulating a specific communication to all owners and residents.

Care should be taken with the wording of your reasons so that they are factual rather than emotive.  It’s critical that the reasons do not discriminate.

We know of owners who specifically seek out schemes where pets are not allowed. Examples that have been shared over time include allergies; fear of dogs and cats; respiratory conditions; fear of vermin that might be attracted to the food of domestic animals.

Pet approval guidelines

Many schemes would have reviewed their pet by-laws soon after the introduction of the 2016 legislation. We highly recommend committee consideration again with clear documentation to the scheme’s records.

As your strata managing agent, we do not give legal advice. However, our strata management team enjoys our sharing culture. So, if you’ve got questions about what might be considered good practice for your scheme, just ask.

Like with all strata and community decisions, we are here to provide information and guide you so that you can make decisions that are in the best interests of all owners.

Any questions, just ask your accredited Strata Plus strata manager. 

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