Pets are a contentious issue in body corporate schemes.
With the increasing popularity of strata living combined with Australia having one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, it is an issue that is becoming more and more prevalent.
This has been highlighted recently by multiple high-profile cases in the media featuring apartment owners with animals successfully overturning “pet bans” in their communities. (See most recent decision below)
62% of Australian households have a pet (almost 40% a dog, and 30% a cat) and the national trend from multiple state governments is to legislate in favour of pet owners being able to keep an animal in their home.
In Queensland, the banning of all pets, as well as banning dogs of a certain size or weight by bodies corporate has been ruled invalid.
A body corporate committee is required to consider the circumstances of each case and be reasonable in the decision it takes.
The primary issue for a body corporate considering a pet application is the likelihood of an adverse impact on common property or any person.
Decisions about suitability of animals for unit/apartment living should not be based on the animal’s size or weight, but on their activity levels, personality and training, as well as the owner’s demonstrated capacity to provide for the animals’ needs and not impinge on the well-being of others in the complex.
What the Law Says:
In Queensland, the relevant law is the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997.
• Under section 180 of the Qld Act it states, “a By-law cannot prevent or restrict a transmission, transfer, mortgage or other dealing with a lot”.
• Section 181(7) “a By-law cannot prevent the sale of a lot to a pet owner who provides reasonable assurance that the animal will be kept securely on the owners lot, [ensuring the animal is kept on a lead or in a carry cage when crossing common area, without the animal causing nuisance and in accordance with local government sanitation and pest control requirements.]”
• An appeal on the grounds of section 181(7): “a By-law must not be oppressive or unreasonable”.
• The owner of a lot can motion to change the community management statement that can enable them to keep pets. More information regarding this is found under section 55 of the Act.
An application is necessary to the body corporate to advise that a lot owner/tenant wishes to keep a pet on the premises. The body corporate often has certain guidelines on the keeping of animals within the body corporate complex.
If you wish to apply to have a pet at the property your request will need to be submitted to the body corporate committee. If applying as a tenant, you will also need to provide evidence of the lot owner’s approval to keep a pet.
To enable the body corporate or property owner to make a reasonable decision, you can demonstrate that you are a responsible carer by providing the below…
• A pet resume (outlining up-to-date immunisations, flea and worming treatments, microchip details, de-sexing certificate, and obedience training certificates)
• Pet references from your vet, dog trainer, or managers where you have lived with your pet
• Introducing your pet to the committee to show good behaviour and training may also help
• Offering to sign a pet agreement which outlines reasonable expectations for the care and management of your pet is a way to demonstrate that you take your responsibilities seriously
Click here for a Stratacare pet application form.
Where there are genuine concerns, the imposition of reasonable conditions on keeping the pet may be more reasonable than outright refusal.
Some examples of the conditions that can be set when giving approval of a pet are:
• That the animal is kept within the Lot while present on the scheme land.
• That the animal is not permitted to roam on common property, or into other lots in the scheme.
• That the animal traverses common property only when it is being brought onto or taken off the scheme land, and that when doing so, the animal is carried or on a lead.
• That any waste or mess caused by the animal is effectively cleaned and disposed of.
• That any applicable local council regulations are complied with.
• That approval may be revoked if the animal causes any noise or disturbance to interfere with any person’s use or enjoyment of another lot or common property.
• That approval is given for the animal included in the application, and that no replacement or substituted animals are allowed, without written approval of the Body Corporate.
If the body corporate refuses to approve the pet, there are avenues that Lot Owners can take to have the decision possibly overturned. See what the Body Corporate advises first. There may be no issues at all, and approval may go smoothly.
Breach of Conditions
Once approval has been given, should there been any breach of the conditions imposed on the approval, the Body Corporate can then revoke the approval and take steps to seek the removal of the animal in question.
Just because an animal is approved does not mean that it can misbehave.
Owners need to take responsibility for their pets and ensure they do not cause nuisance to other owners and occupiers.
Renting with Pets
The QLD government is set to introduce major reforms to the tenancy act to make pet ownership in rental properties easier.
Currently, landlords must give permission and are free to refuse requests.
Under the new proposed rules, it will be much more difficult to turn down requests, except in special cases.
Tips for renting with pets
• Prepare a pet resume outlining training and references from past landlords and neighbours.
• Offer to have carpets professionally cleaned once a year.
• Be honest – don’t try and hide pets if they’re not allowed.
• Seek professional help for behavioural problems such as barking or digging.
For further information or if you have a problem with pets in your community, please call our office on (07) 3435 5300 for a more detailed discussion.
Author: Sam Aubrey