For many households, a dog or cat is considered a treasured member of the family. Pets are loyal, doting and loving, offering companionship and compassion. However, when living in a strata scheme, keeping a family pet requires additional thought and consideration given that the property may have by-laws that restrict tenants from owning a cute puppy dog.
Section 16 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 has the most commonly adopted clause by Owners Corporations.
Keeping of animals
(1) Subject to section 49 (4), an owner or occupier of a lot must not, without the approval in writing of the owners corporation, keep any animal on the lot or the common property.
(2) The owners corporation must not unreasonably withhold its approval of the keeping of an animal on a lot or the common property.
In essence, this clause states that strata scheme members are not permitted to keep any animal without the written permission of the Owners Corporation. If you’re a tenant renting an apartment, some tenancy agreements may also state that you must have the landlord’s permission before you can keep a pet.
While many strata schemes throughout Sydney have included Section 16 as part of their by-laws, some schemes have passed their own rules regarding pet ownership. Therefore prior to purchasing into a strata scheme, it’s always best to read the by-laws during the consideration process.
It’s important to note that guide dogs and hearing dogs are exempt from any by-law restriction.
Given the majority of owners will need to apply for special consideration for their pet, what are possible reasons that an Owners Corporation may give for refusing the request?
The Owners Corporation may consider the pet too large for the apartment block. It may be considered a particular noisy breed and the current tenants may value their peace and quiet. On the other hand, the breed may have an aggressive reputation or be known for its intimating or destructive behaviour. The current scheme members may have deliberately purchased their property knowing that it’s a pet-free zone; therefore it would be unreasonable to grant permission to a new owner.
Pet owners, whose application to keep their pet has been denied by the Owners Corporation, may apply to the Consumer, Trader & Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT). In this instance, you would have to demonstrate that the denial was unreasonable.
Prior to purchasing a pet, we would advise strata scheme members, to talk to their Owners Corporation and receive the written permission to keep the pet in their apartment. The last thing you want is to bring your new pet home only to be told you can’t keep it. It’s also a good idea to select an appropriate pet for your lifestyle and apartment size.
It’s also important to remember, that even after you’ve received written permission from the Owners Corporation and you’ve brought your pet home, your neighbours can still lodge a complaint with the Owners Corporation if the pet disturbs their enjoyment of the property. A common complaint is loud barking, which violates the property’s noise restrictions.
If you have any questions about keeping a pet in a strata-titled property, contact your Strata Manager at Netstrata.