Questionable EC acts about pets and bylaws | Strata Committees | Flat Chat Forum: Your Questions Answered
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In a nutshell we are having an issue regarding pets in our Strata, and the EC.
Late last year, a couple of individuals allowed their dogs to run around unrestrained through common areas to the point where it has become a danger to our baby. The by-laws state that they are not allowed to do this (we have one of the model bylaws) and they have been told as such by the previous EC.
Roll forward to this year and these people have now been elected to the EC, and are letting their dogs run around again. Most other dog owners (a minority in the complex) have taken their lead and allow their dogs to run around unrestrained and it is now getting silly and dangerous for our child when walking through common areas. We've had dog’s poo and urine in stairwells and in common decked areas. We have also been subjected to harassment by one couple that has resulted in a Personal Violence Order against them by the police (due to threats against our baby and personal abuse being yelled out)
We are taking the EC to mediation to enforce the bylaws, but at the latest EC meeting these particular owners have now claimed that the bylaws when they bought were not those that are the current bylaws (supposedly through a 'contract variation', whatever that means).
The EC have now said they will seek ‘more appropriate’ by-laws (read as: to allow them to have unrestrained dogs) and it sounds like they will try to do it outside of an AGM/EGM. They have also said they will not attend mediation and the EC is refusing to issue notices to comply with the offending members of the EC (or anyone else).
We are engaging solicitors to fight this for us, have documented it from day one and are going to mediation (even if they don’t front), but my reading of the situation is:
- The claim the bylaws are wrong is flawed as the bylaws have to be registered to be valid (and the current registered by-law says they must restrain pets)
- They cannot change any by-laws without an EGM/AGM.
- If they don’t attend mediation and it is clear cut in terms of rules, we can immediately seek adjudication to force the EC to force compliance.
- This adjudication is court enforceable (but I am not sure what the penalty is if they don’t enforce the rules)
- Most important - they will never be allowed to allow dogs to run around unrestrained even if they attempt to codify that in by-laws (but I cannot find anything other than perhaps provisions in the NSW Strata act about safe and happy enjoyment or companion animals act)
We think they don’t have a leg to stand on (either 4 or 2 legged) and it amazes us that they want to take it as far as they are given their lack of grounds, but here we are.
Wouldn't mind people thoughts on the above - if it does go to court could we seek costs from the EC?
There would have to be an AGM or EGM to vote on a change to by laws. And there would have to be I believe 75 percent in favor or not more than 25 per cent against. The the by law would have to be registered (about $1,000 cost).
If the dog owners truly are in the minority get the support of the other owners. You can't have dogs fowling common areas.
I don't know about claiming costs from the EC. I would first approach the other owners and point out that a complex with dogs running wild and with eviidence of wear and tear and waste from them would not be appealing to any buyers in the future. I am a great advocate of pet ownership, but responsible pet ownership. Animals allowed to roam to others front doors or yards, be they strata or a free standing house, is not responsible pet ownership.
A bigger concern rather than the fowling of common areas is actually saftey. We had one dog junp up against the pram with the then 3 week old baby in it, and others come barrelling towards us or jump on us while holding the baby. Requests to restrain animals has generally been met with abuse by the owner in question at the time.
Always helpful advice Struggler. I have a quick question or two if you don't mind.
That $1,000 you mention for getting a by-law registered: "The the by law would have to be registered (about $1,000 cost)." Does that mean the actual registration only? Or does it include getting a proposed by-law drawn-up, by or checked out by, a lawyer?
(The reason I'm asking is my Executive Committee has just decided it needs a couple of by-laws which I, personally, think are frivolous, superfluous and unnecessary as the situations are already covered if the Act and existing by-laws are adhered to. Any comments on that would be appreciated too, thanks.)
I believe it was that price for a strata lawyer to draw it up and register the by law. And a word of caution to anyone having a by law drawn up - read, read then re-read the drawn up by law before approving. Your strata lawyer does not live in your complex. Make sure the right terminology is used. The wrong wording or description could dramatically change the by law and require it being drawn up again.
Our by law was covered in the model by laws but the OC wanted to make sure there was no interpretation ithe future and had it defined further. The cost was minimal compared to the cost of an individual owners definition of the model by law.
With you on that, Struggler. I had to weather the usual contemptuous dismissal from our building's chair at an AGM to prevent them from accidentally banning portable air coolers in a by-law aimed to clear up where air-conditioning could be installed. People need to realise that by-laws are a lot harder to undo than they are to create so ultra-diligence is required.
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