The new laws for paws: What’s the deal with pets and strata?

Every dog has its day, and there’s good news for pet owners looking for the green light to bring a furry friend into their apartment with a new pro-pet ruling for strata in NSW.

The amendment came with last month’s NSW Supreme Court decision – and ‘Jo Cooper overturn’ – to remove blanket pet bans, ruling that apartment blocks can no longer unreasonably ban strata residents from keeping pets.

But while it’s a positive change and a step in the right direction for pro-pet campaigners, the rules aren’t so simple – and there’s a great deal of uncertainty around what constitutes ‘unreasonable’ grounds for pet ownership.

So what does the decision actually mean for strata residents?

For owners in strata properties, making a case to have a pet should be easier in theory, but will still require permission in buildings that are not pet friendly. Although the decision has weakened the grounds for a strata body to refuse an owner’s request, it hasn’t entirely removed these grounds – and owners must still seek consent where there are by-laws that don’t allow pets. 

If an owner’s permission is still refused here, the owner can now challenge the refusal by putting their case to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT), which may overturn the by-law (making an application to NCAT can be $13.00 to $52.00, no lawyer required).

Of course, owners are still required to adequately provide for a pet, and the grounds for refusing one may fall outside strata (and under the local council, for instance). An owner can still be refused consent if the property is ill-suited for an animal, if the pet could pose a threat to other residents, or if its welfare is compromised by other means.

For renters, a certainty of the decision is that the tenancy agreement still applies. While the Residential Tenancies Act doesn’t require a tenant to ask their landlord’s permission to have a pet, most landlords who don’t allow pets will include this clause in the tenancy agreement, which mostly remains unaffected by last month’s court ruling. 

Tenants who wish to keep a pet should take the time to request permission through their landlord and offer information about the pet, such as references from past landlords, to support their case. Unfortunately where landlords do allow pets but strata by-laws do not, this has thrown a significant problem into the mix, without renters having the ability to challenge the by-laws.

With the recent changes and steps towards pro-pet residencies, landlords who wish to prohibit pets in their rental properties are advised to consider the alternative – as opting for a no-pet policy will certainly limit your pool of potential tenants. 

While the development has provided a slightly stronger standing for pet owners, it’s always best to ask questions and to do your research before deciding to move into a strata scheme – paws or no paws!

After more information?

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Prudential Real Estate Campbelltown | (02) 4628 0033 |

Prudential Real Estate Liverpool | (02) 9822 5999 |

Prudential Real Estate Macquarie Fields |  (02) 9605 5333 |

Prudential Real Estate Narellan | (02) 4624 4400 |