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Out of luck when strata by-laws ban pets

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In all the kerfuffle over the new strata regulations, pet by-laws predictably got their fair share of column inches, internet clicks and confusion.

To be clear, there are two new model pet by-law options on offer and they are really just options available to developers when they set up a new strata scheme.

If you have already read this in print,
you will find the original posts here

Option A says you can have a pet if you inform the committee within 14 days. Option B says you can have a pet provided you have written permission which can’t be “unreasonably” refused.

Model by-laws can be adopted by 75 percent of votes at a general meeting of the owners of existing schemes but otherwise they do not supersede any valid and registered by-laws that you already have in place.

A third by-law, for pre-1996 buildings, says you can’t have a pet unless you get the written permission of the committee which, again, they can’t unreasonably refuse. It’s similar to Option B, but ‘no pets’ is the default position.

The pre-1996 scheme by-laws automatically apply where there are no existing by-laws covering a whole range of issues.

Which brings us to an option not in the new regs but encountered by Flatchatter Micksik who bought into a unit block without first checking the by-laws.  Sadly, the block bans pets.

This is the exact wording: “Subject to section 58(12) of the Strata Titles Act 1973, a proprietor shall not keep any animal upon his lot or the common property.”

Now Micksik’s options are to give up his dog, find somewhere else to live or persuade his neighbours that it’s time to upgrade 20-year-old by-laws, registered by people who probably don’t live there any more.

In fact, we all have to review our by-laws within 12 months after the new strata laws come in on November 30, so that might be his best bet.

Alternatively, he could take his (very slim) chances on the Tribunal chocolate wheel, where common sense is often in short supply.

I was told recently about an owner who challenged a pet ban on the grounds that the relevant by-law wasn’t being properly enforced.  When it was discovered that the by-law had never been registered, the Tribunal member ruled against him because he was appealing against a non-existent by-law. Amazing!

There’s more on Micksik’s dilemma, including a link to a story about a couple who successfully had their pet by-laws changed, here in the forum.

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