Thanks to a last-minute amendment to a bill championed by the Animal Justice Party (AJP), it could soon be increasingly difficult for any strata run apartment buildings in NSW to ban pets.
Previously, apartment buildings with a strata scheme could vote on whether or not pets would be allowed in the building. However it looks as though the bill, which passed in the NSW Legislative Council on Tuesday 25th August, now disallows this process.
Owners corporations can choose to adopt the sample model by-laws or make changes to them to manage issues in strata like overcrowding, pets, parking, and smoke drift. The model by-laws provide owners corporations with options to control whether pets are allowed, and on what terms. This may no longer be possible in relation to pets.
While this is great news for pet owners and those who would like to welcome a new pet into their apartment, many owners are not happy with the move – saying that it removes a vital democratic process embedded in the strata system.
“This is a terrible example of self-interest being allowed to trample over the collective whole,” said strata lawyer Stephen Goddard, the former chair of the apartment-owners’ peak body, the Owners Corporation Network.
“The people who supported this show that they don’t have a clue how strata works. A community should have the right to decide for themselves how to run their buildings. This has little to do with pets, and everything to do with the survival of the democratic process.”
The AJP proposed bill was also supported by a number of other stakeholders in the Legislative Council, including the Greens and Labor Party.
Some fear that the move may undermine other aspects of strata systems or the legitimacy of voting on decisions relating to apartment buildings. Each strata scheme has its own by-laws, which are a set of rules that owners, tenants and, in some cases, visitors must follow. By-laws cover the behaviour of residents and the use of common property.
They can cover issues such as whether pets are allowed on the scheme, how smoking is regulated, parking and noise levels. The by-laws can vary significantly from scheme to scheme and it is important to understand which by-laws apply to your scheme.
Legislation seems to be increasingly favouring pet owners across the country, with reforms to Victorian rental legislation disallowing landlords from banning pets being put in place a number of years ago.
For more information in how this may affect your apartment building, contact your strata management.