It has been a common practice for owners corporations to impose conditions on the keeping of animals in the Strata Scheme’s by-laws. As society recognises the importance of companionship provided by pets, particularly since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, these by-laws have come under increasing scrutiny.
In August 2021, under the Strata Schemes Management Amendment (Pets) Regulation 2021, we saw laws come into effect which dictate that strata by-laws which unreasonably forbid the keeping of pets in strata buildings are invalid.
It will be considered reasonable to keep an animal on a lot unless doing so, “unreasonably interferes with another occupant’s use and enjoyment of the occupant’s lot or the common property”. The Regulation sights unreasonable interference as the animal:
causes persistent and unreasonable noise;
displays hostile behaviour, including running at, attacking or otherwise menacing other residents or their pets;
repeatedly causes damage to common property or another lot;
endangers the health of another occupant through infection or infestation or causes persistent offensive odour that penetrates another lot or common property; and/or
the owner of the animal fails to comply with a relevant section under the Companion Animals Act 1998.
Owners Corporations may use the by-laws to set reasonable conditions on how animals are to be kept in the scheme, as demonstrated through the model by-laws prescribed under Schedule 3 to the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016 which states:
“If an owner or occupier of a lot keeps an animal on the lot, the owner or occupier must—
(a) keep the animal within the lot, and
(b) supervise the animal when it is on the common property, and
(c) take any action that is necessary to clean all areas of the lot or the common property that are soiled by the animal.”
A report prepared for Parliament, the Review of the keeping of animals in strata schemes in NSW, states:
“Conditions may be set for managing an animal’s waste and maintaining hygiene. In doing so, it is important to distinguish that the mere act of laying waste itself should not be prohibited. Instead, reasonable conditions would specify the areas where an animal may or may not lay waste, or any actions that must be taken afterward to fix or clean any soiled areas.
There are other conditions that can be found in strata schemes’ by-laws beyond those prescribed in the model by-laws. These include: that the animal is required to be microchipped, vaccinated, carried or tethered in lifts and through other common areas such as apartment building lobbies, or must use a dedicated pets entrance to the building to keep them clear of passing human traffic.”
Our office recommends that all Owners Corporations review their by-laws and approval practices in relation to allowing pets in order to ensure validity and compliance moving forward.
To submit an application for approval to keep a pet in a Strata Scheme, please complete our Pet Application Form in full and return it to the relevant office via: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.