Maitland 5

Pets & Strata

11 NOVEMBER 2021

Moving into an apartment with a pet can be a big decision especially as some owners corporations will not accept animals to be kept within the strata complex.

From 25 August, the NSW Government's new laws have put an end to blanket bans on animals in strata. This is a huge change.

We find that when selling a property in a strata complex, the two most commonly asked questions are “what are the strata rates?” and “can I live there with my dog?”. The latter is usually the question that is hardest to answer as the guidelines are either very vague or met with a firm ‘no pets allowed’. The resulting outcome to the no-pet-rule would usually be that a group of 11 interested buyers for the villa would suddenly dwindle to just three. A bit of a buzz kill for many sale campaigns.

With a big shift towards apartment living in recent years, it is understandable why strata pet laws are now being thrown into the spotlight.

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It is said that Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, with 61 per cent of households including a pet in their family and 91 per cent of households owning a pet at some point in their lives.

While the changes implemented prevent schemes from introducing blanket bans on keeping pets in apartments, they also provide a framework where owners corporations can refuse pets where they unreasonably impact other residents. These circumstances include repeated damage of the common property, menacing behaviour, persistent noise and odour.

Whilst they can't ban pets completely, owners corporations will be able to set reasonable conditions through their own by-laws on how pets are kept in their scheme. For example, whether they have to be supervised on common property or enter and exit through a dedicated entrance or lift.

We think these changes are long overdue and will be a huge relief for most buyers. There could still be some legal challenges in the months ahead with some of the stubborn anti-pet committees. So, it is important that if you plan to either move into a strata complex, or add a new furry friend to the family, that you do your research first.

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For tenants in a strata complex, it's a different story altogether when it comes to pet ownership. Even if your strata scheme allows pets, you may still face a pet ban from the landlord. Rule of thumb is to check with your property manager before making any decisions with pets.

There is quite a lot of information online. NSW Fair Trading will also offer support, advice and mediation services for residents and owners of corporations who are unsure about the new rules and how they apply within their scheme. Unresolved disputes can also be escalated to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal where appropriate.

For more information about the new laws, visit the NSW Fair Trading website.

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