I’ve previously written here about Animals in Rental Properties, but through the course of 2020, we’ve seen several highly covered Tribunal and court cases battling for pet owners to have the right to keep pets in apartments.
Recently we’ve seen COVID-19 effectively increase the number of tenants seeking approval to keep pets in rental properties and whilst there are fewer obstacles getting pets approved in some properties, the issues surrounding approval becomes complicated where the property is part of a Strata Plan, a community of apartments or townhouses.
In some high-profile cases in Sydney, we see appeal after appeal where ultimately, it’s up to the building’s individual Strata Committee to approve or decline applications for pets.
In New South Wales, the default is no longer to ban pets, but instead allow pets after you obtain written approval from the Strata Committee, which can’t be unreasonably refused. This was a New South Wales legislative change which forms part of the Strata Schemes Management Regulations 2016.
However, this doesn’t consider a strata property’s individual by-laws. Even though legislation provides for the occupier of a strata apartment to have a pet, that doesn’t mean you have the strata committee’s approval. Strata Committees get to choose which by-laws it wants to incorporate into their strata scheme. Saying this, the recent unanimous ruling by three sitting judges from the NSW Court of Appeal, on a four-and-a-half-year battle between Jo Cooper (pet owner) and the Horizon building in Darlinghurst, now means that no blanket ban on pets will be permitted in any building anywhere in the state of NSW. You can read the article here, written by Sue Williams, Domain Reporter.
Prior to bringing a pet into a strata property, you’ll need to send a written request to the Strata Committee seeking permission. This applies even if your building is pet-friendly, and some strata managing agents may have a dedicated application form for this process.
Every Strata Committee will require different information but some of the information requested could be;
- A description of your pet i.e. the pets breed, size and age
- Details of your pet’s disposition, such as temperament and its activity needs
- Proof of registration, microchipping, de-sexing, and all necessary vaccinations
- References from former landlords, agent, or neighbours that mention your pet’s behaviour, particularly if you have previously kept a pet in a strata managed complex
- Records of any formal pet training
In the application process, I feel that what’s considered strongly 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 the number of pets
- If the pet will suitably fit in with the Strata Plan
- Your personal routine i.e. if you work from home or take your pet to work
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 all day, every day.
If you reside in a rental property, you need to be aware that the landlord of the property is allowed to exercise their discretion on whether or not a pet is permitted by tenants in their apartment. In order to seek approval from the Strata Committee, the tenant’s pet application should be first submitted to the landlord (or Property Manager if managed by an Agency) for approval and then once approved by the landlord or agent, they will submit the pet application to the Strata Committee for you, so essentially this two-step process has to happen before a pet can be kept at the property.
“It is important to note that under the Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009, any person who relies on a guide, hearing or assistance dog (and who has the right to be on a lot included in a community titles scheme, or on the common property) has the right to be accompanied their service dog, regardless of a strata committee’s by-laws on pets.” PICA Group.
So, it is worth looking into further.
For Tenants – find out what the owner’s position is on pets first, find out if there are other pets in the complex and therefore the by-laws are more likely to allow pets.
For Owners – it may be worth looking into getting a tenant approved to keep a pet, as I’ve written before most pet owners are responsible ones and can become long term tenants. For the most part, in my experience, renting to tenants with pets is a trouble-free experience.
Antonio Mesiti is the Principal & Property Manager at The Management Agency, a local Property Management specialist offering a one on one and end to end service for his Property Investor clients. For more information visit; https://themanagementagency.com.au/about/