If you are a pet lover you may be interested to know where you and your pet stand in your strata scheme...
It appears that more than two-thirds of Australian households include pets and Australia has the highest incidence of pet ownership per household of any country in the world. It is also estimated that one in five people in New South Wales live in a strata scheme. Therefore it goes without saying that the pet policy issue is going to come up.
Every strata scheme is different and therefore you must understand the rules surrounding pets prior to purchasing or renting in the building. However generally the key issues related to keeping animals in residential areas, particularly in a strata scheme, are related to cleanliness, noise, and unsociable behaviour.
That said you do not require Owners Corporation consent to keep a guide dog or hearing dog in a strata scheme however whether you can keep your pet in the strata scheme depends on the terms of the By-laws which apply to the scheme. If the tenant/owner has told the Owners Corporation everything they need to know, and there should be no possible objection to your keeping a pet, then generally the By-Laws of a strata scheme will have the effect that the Owners Corporation must not unreasonably withhold its consent. Consent can be withheld by the Owners Corporation if you asked to keep a large dog or several animals in a small apartment. If the tenant/owner believes consent has been withheld unfairly they can take the following action; Mediation OR Adjudication OR Appeal to Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal.
If the Owners Corporation grants you permission to keep a pet you must ensure that the presence of your pet does not become a nuisance for other residents in the strata scheme. Even though you may have the consent of the landlord and the Owners Corporation, any owner or occupier within the scheme can apply for an order to remove a pet on the grounds that it is causing a nuisance. To minimise the chances of this occurring, you should ensure your pet is house trained, that a dog is kept on a leash when necessary and that all animals are taught appropriate behaviour. If your pet is a dog, excessive barking is an issue that must be addressed. If regularly walking or behavioural training of your dog does not remedy this situation, you may need to reconsider the suitability of living in a strata scheme altogether.
Please note: this information is intended as a guide and should not replace legal advice, below is a list of resources for tenants to seek further information;
● Application forms to resolve disputes and publications containing information may be obtained from the NSW Office of Fair Trading; website www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au or the Renting and Strata Services Branch of the NSW Office of Fair Trading on 9338 7900 or 1800 451 431 (outside Sydney). ● Community Justice Centres can assist parties in reaching an agreement to resolve a dispute. The NSW Government section of the telephone book contains details of these centres. ● The NSW Department of Housing Home Purchase Advisory Service provides information on buying a strata unit – telephone 1800 806 653. ● The Tenants Union of NSW is a specialist Community Legal Centre that aims to represent the interests of all tenants in NSW. Its website is located at http://www.tenants.org.au/ – telephone (02) 9251 6590 ● The Community Relations Commission For a multicultural NSW, provides translation and interpreting services – telephone 1300 651 500.