The never ending saga of pet by-laws continue with a recent case of Roden v The Owners – Strata Plan No. 55773 (2021) which examined whether a no pet by-law in a strata scheme was ‘harsh, unconscionable and oppressive’. This is particularly interesting in light of the cases of Roden, Cooper and Spiers. The end result thus far being that by-laws prohibiting pets in strata schemes were not ‘harsh, unconscionable and oppressive’, despite some initial findings in Cooper. A summary of the most recent findings of Roden in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal are elaborated on below.
A brief overview
The strata scheme in question is located in Darlinghurst and consists of 280 residential lots. In December of 2020, the owner’s corporation passed a by-law which stipulated that consent to keep an animal must not be unreasonably withheld. This new by-law was introduced to replace a previous by-law which prohibited animals with only a few exceptions to this prohibition. Following the introduction of this by-law, a lot owner asserted that the powers exerted by this by-law were ‘harsh, unconscionable, or oppressive’.
What did the Tribunal decide regarding the validity of no pet by-laws?
The Tribunal looked to the context of the strata scheme and determined that the by-law was not ‘beyond power’ since it did allow animals with consent and went further to affirm that as per the present by-law it was acceptable for an owner’s corporation to:
- require a lot owner to pay a non-refundable administrative fee when applying to keep an animal on their lot and make a new application if they change or replace the approved animal;
- place a limit of 2 animals per lot except goldfish or small birds in cages;
- require a lot owner to ensure that when entering and exiting the building common property with an animal, they do so without delay;
- prohibit animals being left on a balcony while the lot owner/occupant is not present; and
- require a lot owner to obtain consent before allowing visitor animals into the strata scheme.
So what now?
Whilst there is more clarity regarding pet ownership in strata schemes with no pet by-laws, the powers granted to owner’s corporation appear to be sufficiently wide to allow the owners corporation to withhold consent to certain pets and impose conditions on such ownership. In short, if you are a pet lover and would prefer not to endure the hassle of the above requirements, it is recommended that you seek a pet friendly strata scheme.
The contents of this publication are for reference purposes only. This publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Specific legal advice should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.