New laws permit pets in strata accommodation

Residents in strata accommodation now possess greater pet ownership rights. Photo: Emma Darbin.

 

PET lovers who live in strata accommodation or who may own a holiday apartment away from home can now rejoice, with new laws in place to allow them to have their beloved pet stay with them.

The new laws introduced by the NSW Government from 25 August put an end to blanket bans on animals in strata as an owners corporation can now only refuse to allow an animal into a strata scheme if the animal unreasonably interferes with another resident’s use and enjoyment of their lot or the common property.

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The changes follow a detailed review of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 and extensive public consultation, focusing on the keeping of animals in strata schemes.

Under the new regulations there is a prescribed list detailing specific grounds where an owners corporation can refuse a lot owner from keeping an animal in a strata scheme or take steps to remove an existing animal from the scheme.

These include repeated damage of the common property by a pet, menacing behaviour, persistent noise and pet odour.

Owners corporations will also be able to set reasonable conditions through their own by-laws on how pets are kept in their scheme including whether the pet must be supervised on common property or enter and exit through a dedicated entrance or lift.

The changes do not affect landlords’ rights under a residential tenancy agreement to prohibit the keeping of an animal in their property.

Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said the new laws reflect broad community sentiment from the review, and demonstrate a balanced approach for both residents and owners corporations in keeping furry friends in strata.

“A lot has changed since the Act commenced in 2015, including a huge shift to apartment living as more and more people in NSW are choosing to buy and rent in higher density areas,” Mr Anderson said.

“On top of that, research tells us that Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, with 61 per cent of households including a pet in their family, and 91 per cent of households owning a pet at some point in their lives.

“Following extensive feedback from the community we have implemented fair and sensible regulations that prevent schemes from introducing blanket bans on keeping pets in apartments, while ensuring owners corporations can refuse pets where they unreasonably impact other residents.”

Mr Anderson said the importance of pet ownership and companionship could not be understated, particularly during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“Living in strata is becoming more popular and while we don’t want strata residents deprived of the benefits of owning a pet it’s also important the amenity of neighbours and others in the building isn’t impacted,” he said.

“Our new laws have been designed to strike the right balance for everyone living in strata communities, putting an end to blanket bans on pets while giving owners corporations clear guidance on how they can set rules to ensure other owners aren’t impacted.”

NSW Fair Trading will be offering support, advice and mediation services for residents and owners corporations unsure about the new rules and how they apply within their scheme.

Unresolved disputes can also be escalated to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal where appropriate.

For more information about the new laws visit https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/housing-and-property/strata-and-community-living/strata-schemes/by-laws-in-your-strata-scheme.

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