A pet subject: don’t assume in strata developments

With the rise of apartment living, it’s only natural that the issue of pet ownership in strata complexes surface.

It’s estimated by the RSPCA that 61 per cent of households own pets so it’s important that strata management firms and owners’ corporations (or body corporates) are aware of their obligations.  

Prominent legal cases have sought to clarify the rights of pet owners, with numerous “pet-friendly” amendments made at state or territory level to address the outcomes to avoid “harsh or oppressive” decrees or blanket bans on pets.

For example, in some instances, there has been provision for landlords being permitted to charge a pet bond to cover repairs or appropriate end-of-lease cleaning.

What the law says

The tide may be turning, but the first and most important consideration is that pet owners should never assume that pets are permitted in a strata complex, even if their animals are kept wholly indoors.  

There is some legal advice that indicates a by-law that prohibits all pets in a building will have no legal standing. But it says an owners’ corporation can have a by-law that prohibits pets in limited circumstances, such as species and breed, or if the building is primarily used for short-term holiday rentals. It could even extend to assistance animals, such as a provision that owners provide evidence the animal is duly certified.

Do your homework

Bearing this in mind, it’s a prudent move for would-be purchasers to perform due diligence on pet by-laws before making a serious commitment to buy.

If you’re keen, have your solicitor or conveyancer examine the by-laws to review any restrictions or limitations. Next, determine via the strata manager or committee member if the complex is pet friendly and if an application is likely to be approved.  Consent usually applies to individual animals, so replacing them with another after the heart-breaking loss of a much-loved pet is not automatic.

How to succeed

Renters usually require permission from their landlord to keep a pet, but in most jurisdictions, consent is also required from owners’ corporations.

To support this case, add extra clauses into rental agreements, such as carpet cleaning or pet bonds. 

The creation of a pet resume that documents training and includes references from former neighbours and landlords may also assist in quelling any opposition from other residents fearful of late-night barking or acts of aggression.

Making assumptions can often lead to disappointment, not to mention hours of stress, but being honest about your pet can, and will, work in your favour.