NSW Renting with Pets

NSW Renting with Pets – The Strata Update

19/5/21

I’ve previously written here about Animals in Rental Properties but throughout 2020 we’ve seen some changes when it comes to several highly covered Tribunal and court cases battling for Pet Owners to have the rights to keep pets in Apartments. We’ve also seen COVID-19 effectively increase the number of tenants seeking approval to keep Pets in Rental Properties.

In some high-profile cases in Sydney, we see appeal after appeal where ultimately, it’s up to the buildings individual Strata Committee to approve or decline applications for Pets. In Strata Plans it’s generally up to the owners to decide what By-Law they adopt for their specific building.

If a building adopts a Strictly NO PET By-Law then it essentially doesn’t have any Pet Policy in place, a No Pet By-Law is not a valid one.

In New South Wales, the default is no longer to ban pets (as it was prior to a 2015 law change), but instead allow pets after you obtain written approval from the strata committee, which can’t be unreasonably refused.

However, this doesn’t consider a strata property’s individual by-laws. Even when legislation provides for the occupier of a strata apartment to have a dog, cat, or even bunny, that doesn’t mean you have the strata committee’s approval. As with all by-laws, each strata committee gets to choose which by-laws it wants to incorporate into thier strata scheme.

Even if your building is pet-friendly, prior to bringing a pet into your strata property you’ll need to send a written request to the committee seeking permission.

The application could require information such as:

  • A description of your pet, including his or her size, age, appearance and breed
  • Details of your pet’s disposition, for example, is your pet docile or friendly
  • Records of formal obedience or other behavioural training
  • Records to demonstrate that you are a responsible pet owner by having proof of registration, microchipping, de-sexing and all necessary vaccinations
  • Records of keeping your pet previously either in a strata plan or other residence, including references from your former landlords or neighbours that specifically mention the behaviour of your pet

In the application process considerations made will be;

  • The By-Laws for the particular building
  • The type, size and number of Pets
  • The size of the property vs the size and number of Pets
  • If the Pet will suitably fit in with the Strata Plan

Whilst applications can’t be unreasonably denied, I think it’s fair to say that a large active dog won’t be approved for a small apartment unless for instance, its owner takes the dog to work with them.

If you are in a rental property, under the current legislation the owner of the property is allowed to exercise their discretion on whether or not a pet is permitted by tenants in their individual apartment or unit. When seeking committee approval, a tenant’s application to have a pet should be submitted to them by the owner of the lot, not the tenant themselves after the owner of the lot has approved the keeping of a pet in the property, so essentially this two-step process has to happen before the tenancy can be sure to go ahead.

So, is it worth looking into further, Yes and I highly recommend reading through the following Q&A link and the recent Webinar at the links at the end of this Blog?

For Tenants – find out what the owner’s position is on pets first, if a Property Description doesn’t stipulate just ask the agent if they are open to Pets. When you’re at the property look out for other pets in the complex and therefore the By-Laws are likely to allow Pets.

Obviously, if the property is a house or not in a Strata Plan then your only obstacle is the landlord. What I don’t suggest is getting a Pet first and trying to get approval after the fact!

 

For Owners – it may be worth looking into getting a tenant approved with a Pet, as I’ve written before most Pet Owners are responsible ones and can become long term tenants. For the most part, renting to tenants with Pets is a trouble-free experience! If you’re unsure of your Buildings stance on Pets, read through a copy of your By-Laws.

 

For heaps more info on Pets in Strata the following links are a must from the team at Lookup Strata:

A very informative Q&A on PETS in NSW Strata can be found here;

https://www.lookupstrata.com.au/nsw-pet-rules-for-strata/

A Webinar discussing everything Pets in NSW can be found here; https://www.lookupstrata.com.au/nsw-strata-webinars/

As a Property Manager I feel, and know for myself, how beneficial pets can be to everyone’s life so it’s important to me for The Management Agency to encourage Pets in Rental Properties. Of course, this applies where we feel the property is suitable for a specific Pet & of course the Landlord approves.

In the end, there are factors that determine outcomes that are out of our control and I personally wouldn’t condone approving a Pet in a property where I feel it wouldn’t be good for a Pet’s wellbeing. In any case, applications are always considered and handled on a case-by-case basis and I think that’s fair on everyone.

Antonio Mesiti is the Principal & Property Manager at The Management Agency, a local Property Management specialist offering a one on one service for his Property Investor clients.

For more information visit; https://themanagementagency.com.au/about/

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