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Pet restrictions up the garden path

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With slightly pet-friendlier by-laws to be included in the new strata legislation, some animal-free apartment blocks are worried that they are about to be over-run by schnoodles, spoodles and labradoodles.

Pets are becoming more popular in units – with good reason – but, asks one reader, can you limit the kind of units in which pets are allowed?

“I am currently serving as Secretary on an EC that represents 10 units,” writes WLG on the Flat Chat forum. “A by-law was passed several years ago banning all pets. However, three of the (seven) EC members are actively campaigning to amend this.

“I am concerned about keeping dogs or cats in some of the smaller apartments but I am open to owners of garden units having pets.”

Worried about a pro and anti-pet civil war breaking out, WLG wonders if a by-law can be written to allow pets, subject to strict conditions, including that the unit must have a garden.

This echoes a question asked at the recent Flat Chat Live on whether pets could be restricted to resident owners only, excluding tenants.

The answer is probably no on both counts. The new strata Act will specifically prohibit passing by-laws that are “harsh, unconscionable or oppressive”.

Any by-law limiting pets to owners, or residents with gardens, could be challenged on any or all of those criteria, with passionate pro- and anti-pet owners alike pursuing you to Fair Trading and the Tribunal (NCAT).

So, to side-step civil war as best he can, WLG should allow both sides to present their points of view in a civilised manner including, perhaps, through a special meeting.

He should then tell the pro-pet owners that if they can have a by-law ready for the next AGM, he will put it on the agenda.

They still need to persuade more than 75 percent of voters at a general meeting –  potentially eight out of ten units –  to agree on a by-law change. That’s something the pro-pet lobby needs to realise can’t be done by a committee vote.

One other thing – as a general observation, we all need to be wary of changing by-laws to “go with the flow” and appease a minority or a forceful individual.

By-laws are much harder to undo than they are to agree on – that same minority can block any changes when the majority realise they have made a mistake.

There’s more on the pet issue HERE and HERE.

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