22/03/2019 at 7:45 pm #36533
Our Schedule By-laws are for pre-1996 schemes. We are in principle a no animal scheme.
An owner in our building has a cat (which was not approved) – this cat is a therapy cat and helps the owner with anxiety and other issues.
The SC wish to approve the cat as it is helpful to the owners wellbeing but wish to put guidelines/restrictions on the approval to prevent this getting out of hand. eg 3 cats or other owners doing the same with cats or dogs.
Are there any guidelines that you can recommend as a must to include in the approval process?
Slim22/03/2019 at 7:46 pm #36537
What is the actual wording of your existing pet by-law, please?23/03/2019 at 10:22 am #36543
You are opening a can of worms here (or a bag of cats) so you are right to be cautious. If you want to maintain your (almost) pet-free status, you could modify your by-laws to say that genuine assistance animals must be restricted to one per unit and must be approved under the terms of the Local Government Act (see this advice fact sheet) and that it must not be allowed to roam on common property on its own.
If you are taking this as an opportunity to modernise your pet laws (or at least discuss the issue) a reasonable restriction is two pets per unit. Why two? Dogs, especially, and cats are social animals and they benefit from each others company, and are therefore less likely to be disruptive when their owners are out at work.
I heard recently about a dog that was in danger of being evicted from a unit block because of its barking when left alone – until its owners brought in a kitten for company.
If you are considering bringing pets into your block, remember that there may be owners and tenants who moved there because they didn’t want to be around animals.
But you can assuage a lot of concern by reminding people that even when animals have been allowed, they can be removed if they prove to be disruptive or even present a health concern for residents.23/03/2019 at 11:48 am #36549
Can you provide some clarification of the meaning of we are in principle a no animal scheme?
Some by-laws are permissive and some are prohibitive. Sometimes it is difficult for a non lawyer to determine which type it is, and what the ramifications are.
If your by-law is similar to one below then it is permissive and would not be deemed to be a no animal by-law. Similar by-laws have been in operation in the NSW legislation since 1986.
16 KEEPING OF ANIMALS
(1) Subject to section 157 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015, an owner or occupier of a lot must not, without the approval in writing of the owners corporation, keep any animal on the lot or the common property.
(2) The owners corporation must not unreasonably withhold its approval of the keeping of an animal on a lot or the common property.
Note :This by-law was previously by-law 27 in Schedule 1 to the Strata Schemes (Freehold Development) Act 1973 and by-law 28 in Schedule 3 to the Strata Schemes (Leasehold Development) Act 1986.
Below are conditions that are generally found to be reasonable and acceptable in Qld by the Qld Government, so would also probably be acceptable in NSW.
Common conditions bodies corporate may impose on the keeping of animals include:
- The animal is not allowed on the common property, except for the purpose of being taken in or out of the scheme land.
- The animal must be on a lead or adequately restrained while on common property.
- The animal must be regularly treated for fleas.
- The animal must not cause nuisance or interfere unreasonably with any person’s use or enjoyment of another lot or common property.
- The animal be kept in good health and free from fleas and parasites.
- Any animal waste must be disposed of in such a way that it does not create noxious odours or otherwise contaminate the scheme.
- Reasonable steps must be taken to minimise the transfer of airborne allergens from the animal, such as regular vacuuming and/or grooming.
- The committee can withdraw approval for the animal to remain on the scheme if the specified conditions are not complied with.
- The approval only applies to the animal in the application and does not allow the keeping of any additional replacement or substitute animals on the lot.
If you do not comply with the conditions imposed by the committee or written in the by-laws, the committee may withdraw approval for your animal and ask you to remove the animal from the property.”
23/03/2019 at 4:17 pm #36552
- This reply was modified 4 weeks, 1 day ago by Lady Penelope.
The wording of our by-law is as Lady Penelope has stated and it is the 2nd clause that concerns us:
2) The owners corporation must not unreasonably withhold its approval of the keeping of an animal on a lot or the common property.
We want to remain a no pet building but feel that the owner if he took the issue to NCAT would win as he does have mental problems and the cat is suppose to be a calming influence.
He wrote a very aggressive letter to the Strata manager when an owner complained about the cat.
We would rather control the situation than fight the situation but do not want other residents to feel it is now ok to have pets or that we are ignoring their concerns.
Therefore we thought a letter of approval with conditions would be the way to go? Would he win in NCAT?
Thank you Lady Penelope for the list of conditions.
Slim23/03/2019 at 5:03 pm #36555
slim – If your scheme has always had that same pet by-law then your scheme has never been a ‘no animal scheme’. Your owners have been mistaken in believing that the animal by-law has been prohibitive.
Instead, your scheme has always had a permissive pet by-law i.e. a by-law been that permits animals based on approval by the owner’s corporation, and with approval not being legally able to be unreasonably with held.
Any owner (or indeed any tenant with an owner’s approval) can apply to keep an animal at your scheme, and if the owner or tenant does not have an animal that has previously caused problems etc then that animal cannot be unreasonably refused by the OC. Approvals are on a case by case basis.
If the owner’s corporation unreasonably with held a pet approval then any affected occupant could take your OC to NCAT, and they would probably win.
Therefore, if I was in your position I would
(a) as soon as possible have the OC ratify a set of acceptable and reasonable conditions for the keeping of an animal (either by the Committee at a Committee Meeting or by amendments to the by-law), and then
(b) at the Committee Meeting resolve to write to the owner and request that the owner formally apply in writing to keep their cat as they are currently in breach of the pet by-law by keeping the cat without approval. Your OC should also provide assurances that approval will not be unreasonably with held by the OC if the cat owner agrees to abide by the conditions for the keeping an animal and does not breach the conditions.
Should your OC wish to formally amend the existing animal by-law to include these conditions then the OC can only do this at a general meeting by the proper processes set out in the Act e.g. a Special Resolution followed by Registration.
Changes to by-laws is a longer process and involves costs e.g. legal costs in the drafting of the by-law, and Registration costs. It would be wise to seek the assistance of a lawyer when wording the amendment to the by-law.
An extra condition that all schemes that I have been involved in have included is that the animal owner must provide a photograph of the animal so that anyone who sees the animal on common property, or sees the animal behaving badly, or ‘lost’, will recognise the animal and know to which owner the animal belongs.24/03/2019 at 10:44 am #36557
Thanks Lady Penelope – your advise is very helpful and exactly what we wanted.