New regulations shift onus to strata-friendly pets

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It’s not too obvious at first, but the new strata scheme pet regulations published this week by NSW Fair Trading put the onus firmly on pet owners not to introduce problem animals into strata schemes, rather than allowing owners corporations to ban all pets, in case some of them become problematic.

As of Wednesday August 25, strata schemes can’t have pet by-laws that unreasonably forbid residents from keeping companion animals.

Instead Fair Trading has issued a clear set of condition which, when breached, mean pets can be removed fronm strata schemes.

All of which means that blanket bans on pets have been overturned and the focus now is on strata-friendly pets rather than pet-friendly strata schemes.

And if owners corps are nervous about the introduction of problem pets, all they have to do is warn owners that if their companion animals turn out to be nuisances, they will use the regulations to have them removed from the building.

In fact, strata schemes that have never had pets in their building, and don’t want them now, can put it in their by-laws that they will vigorously pursue any breaches of the regulations with a view to having any offending animals removed

They can also bring in specific by-laws about where the animals can and can’t go, and how they must be moved through common property.

In other words, they can signal to potential pet owners that they aren’t welcome and, more to the point, if their pets break the rules, they may have to find them new homes.

However, by-laws about the size and breeds of permitted dogs may be on shaky ground unless those breeds are certain to breach the regulations.

So what are the tripwires for unacceptable pets? The new regulation 36A (Keeping of animals—circumstances of unreasonable interference) says:

The circumstances in which the keeping of an animal unreasonably interferes with another occupant’s use and enjoyment of the occupant’s lot or the common property are— 

  1. the animal makes a noise that persistently occurs to the degree that the noise unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of another occupant, or 
  2. the animal repeatedly runs at or chases another occupant, a visitor of another occupant or an animal kept by another occupant, or 
  3. the animal attacks or otherwise menaces another occupant, a visitor of another occupant or an animal kept by another occupant, or 
  4. the animal repeatedly causes damage to the common property or another lot, or 
  5. the animal endangers the health of another occupant through infection or infestation, or 
  6. the animal causes a persistent offensive odour that penetrates another lot or the common property, or 
  7. for a cat kept on a lot—the owner of the animal fails to comply with an order that is in force under the Companion Animals Act 1998, section 31, or 
  8. for a dog kept on a lot— 
    the owner of the animal fails to comply with an order that is in force under the Companion Animals Act 1998, section 32A,
    or the animal is declared to be a menacing dog or a dangerous dog under the Companion Animals Act 1998, section 34,
    or the animal is a restricted dog within the meaning of the Companion Animals Act 1998, section 55(1).  

From the pet owners point of view, they can’t be refused permission to keep a pet. However, if the pet breaches any of the above conditions, they could find themselves searching for a new home for the animal and mayebe even themselves.

How this plays out for other residents with allergies, genuine phobias or even religious beliefs remains to be seen.

But you could see scenario evolve where the owners corp tries to remove its “no-pets” by-laws only to have an affected owner saying, “no – not while I’m living here.”

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One Reply to “New regulations shift onus to strata-friendly pets”

  1. hyacinth says:

    Just a comment re pets. Our apartment building has not been pet friendly, though with bated breath, knew that may not last. Unfortunately now the precedent has been set. . We understand the new regs. put the onus back onto the resident, But to be fair to all, has consideration been given to buildings like ours (28 Lots), who don’ t want to be unreasonable but don’t want to be in a situation where at least 1/2 the los have a dog. Why can’t the O C be allowed to set a limit? After all, we live in a world where limits/ quotas are part of every day life. And you wait until the next available seat, property, opportunity becomes available . Our SC doesn’t see that as harsh, but as fair…being reasonable to all. ( we did have almost 99% majority for no pets bylaw, ). There must be a sensible solution to this problem. As a matter of interest, is the no pets ban on any agenda to be revisited? Understand landlords can refuse a pet in , thank goodness that ruling still stands

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