Kilmartin Knyvett Lawyers: Pets and The Body Corporate

Image: Aria Property Group – Oxley + Stirling Residences

Pets and body corporate living

Moving into a new apartment is exciting, but it’s often a very stressful time for our furry friends and their owners.

To make the transition easier, it’s good to be informed about the rules which regulate pets within a body corporate.

What rules apply to pets?

The bylaws of a body corporate generally determine if an animal is permitted in a property and will outline the responsibilities of being a pet owner within a community titles scheme.

An application for pet residency can be made by an owner, occupier or prospective owner/occupier.

Of course, you don’t need to ask for permission if you have a recognised disability and have a legally recognised assistance animal.

Seeking approval from the body corporate committee

Even where animal bylaws exist, they are still generally subject to approval by the body corporate committee, unless expressly stated otherwise.

Prospective pet owners should make a written request to the body corporate committee. The request can’t be unreasonably denied and can be reviewed and overturned if it’s unreasonable.

What if there are no animal bylaws?

Even where there are no animal bylaws, approval must be granted as having an animal might be in breach of other bylaws, such as noise or nuisance. A prospective pet owner should still make a written request or fill out an application form provided by the body corporate.

Prohibitive animal bylaws

There are also “prohibitive bylaws” which forbid specific animals. For example, bylaws that only allow cats, or dogs under 10kgs. It’s important to remember that a committee cannot grant approval for an animal that is expressly prohibited by the bylaws, no matter how much they may want to.

An owner can propose a motion to change the bylaws relating to the animal. If the motion is unsuccessful, the application can be resolved via conciliation or adjudication- the outcome of which is binding on the parties.  

The ground rules  

Once a pet has been approved, there are still rules which must be followed.

For example, it is not unusual for the body corporate to impose rules, or conditions for pets living in the community titles scheme. These are usually discretionary and can be reasonably imposed by the committee at any time. Some of the common conditions are:

  • Animals are not allowed on common property, except when coming and going from property;
  • Animals must be kept on a lead while on common property;
  • Animals must be kept in good health;
  • Animals must not cause any unreasonable disturbance or nuisance to another person’s enjoyment of the common property.

Things to remember

Depending on the pet’s personality, it may take a few weeks to adjust to life in the new digs. This can be stressful because no one wants their pet evicted or on bad terms with other residents for causing an unreasonable disturbance.

It’s important to be patient while the new residents settle in. Over time, the stress presenting as bad behaviour will fade away and everyone will be living in harmony. After all, it’s not a home without the sound of paws skittering across the floor.

Author: Kilmartin Knyvett Lawyers