Petulance avoided

Pets are becoming a much more acceptable part of apartment life but how can you let them in without turning the building into a menagerie?

Q: We live in a strata block where the original by-law did not allow pets. Despite this, both owner occupiers and tenants have brought in cats, and more recently a dog has appeared, raising complaints from a couple of owners (it pees on hallway carpet and runs up and down hallways, etc.) Do owners have to vote to change the by-law allowing pets and what percentage of votes are needed to approve the change? If carried, then the next step will be to draw up a list of ‘rules’. Do you have something that can be used as a general guide?

Pet Lover, Parramatta

A: You can change your by-laws at an AGM or EGM to allow pets, but there should be conditions attached. Firstly, they must be registered with and approved by the Executive Committee and their owners must ensure they cause no noise, nuisance or damage. This is a more effective way of controlling pets than a blanket ban (which people ignore) and responsible pet owners shouldn’t suffer as a consequence of others’ actions.

Meanwhile you can issue a “breach” notice to the owner of the urinating dog, demanding that they pay for the cleaning and/or replacement of common property carpet. If they fail to comply, you can take the issue to the Office Of Fair Trading which can issue a fine of up to $550 for the first offence and up to $5500 for subsequent breaches.

I have posted a copy of my building’s pet by-law on my website (www.jimmythomson.com/flatchat). It covers all the bases and has worked very well in our building – we have lots of dogs and cats and the few problems that arise are dealt with quickly and efficiently.

You will need a Special Resolution to change a by-law or impose a new one and this can only happen at a general meeting of the Owners Corporation. If your AGM isn’t for a while, you can call an EGM by getting the signatures of 25 percent of eligible owners. Then, at the meeting, you will need 75 percent of votes (by unit entitlements) to push the change through.

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