"Pet ownership has long been a contentious issue in strata buildings and apartments, particularly in densely populated areas like Sydney"
Pet ownership has long been a contentious issue in strata buildings and apartments, particularly in densely populated areas like Sydney. While many people are passionate about their pets and consider them to be important members of their family, the concerns of other residents regarding noise, odours, and safety cannot be ignored. Fortunately, the Courts in New South Wales have recognised the importance of balancing the needs and interests of both pet owners and non-pet owners in strata schemes. The default rule is now that pets are allowed, subject to any reasonable conditions set by the owners corporation. This means that pet owners no longer have to seek permission from the owners corporation to keep pets, as was previously the case.
However, the laws also allow the owners corporation to make by-laws that prohibit or restrict the keeping of pets, provided that the by-law is not harsh, unconscionable, or oppressive. This means that strata buildings can still have rules in place to ensure that pets do not cause a nuisance to other residents. In the recent case of Cooper v The Owners – Strata Plan No 58068  NSWSC 1249, the court considered the validity of a by-law that prohibited the keeping of dogs in a strata building. The court held that the by-law was valid, as it was not harsh, unconscionable, or oppressive.
The court noted that the by-law was reasonable, as it took into account the size and layout of the building, as well as the fact that the building was located in a densely populated area. These strata laws are a positive step towards more harmonious living with pets in apartments, and they provide a framework for resolving disputes between pet owners and non-pet owners in strata schemes.
By allowing for greater flexibility in the rules regarding pets, the laws recognise the importance of pets in the lives of many people, while also ensuring that the needs and interests of other residents are not overlooked. In our local area, there are many pet lovers who are excited about the Court's decision. They believe that the laws will make it easier for them to keep pets in their apartments, while also respecting the rights of their neighbours. With the right rules in place, pet owners can continue to enjoy the companionship of their pets, while non-pet owners can live in a safe and comfortable environment free from the nuisance of pets.
Fernando is a long-time pet lover, and occasionally a building manager, strata manager, property manager, conveyancer, and lawyer.