The low down on pet ownership, apartment living, and body corporate

Market Insights
7 years ago
3 minutes

There’s no doubt Australia is a nation of animal-lovers.We have one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world, with the RSPCA estimating two out of three households have a pet of some sort.However, until recently, owning a pet and living in an apartment complex in New South Wales was almost impossible, with by-laws blanket banning pets in strata schemes.Thankfully, the State Government relaxed the strata by-laws last year to make it easier to keep animals in an apartment, and it’s a big win for pet-lovers, and developers alike when you consider the following:

  • More than 2 million people in NSW live in apartments
  • That figure is predicted to climb to half of Sydney’s population by 2040
  • Banning pet owners alienates two thirds of the population, many of those buyers and renters
  • Its good business sense to include this demographic when an apartment goes on the market
  • In fact, with so many landlords and owners corporations saying no to animals, pet-friendly apartment buildings are in high demand, therefore increasing their value

What does this change mean for my pet and me?

Reasonable requests to keep a pet legally can no longer be refused if the model by-law is adopted, but permission must be sought from the owners’ corporation.Fair Trading NSW says an example would be that apartment complexes could not unreasonable reject the keeping of a small pet, such as a cat, particularly if it is kept indoors.

Likewise, a by-law cannot ban an owner from keeping a guide or assistance dog.However, the reforms will not remove the body corporate ability to make its own rules about pets.

Apartment blocks can include their own conditions such as no pets in the common areas, no pets over 10 kilograms, and they can refuse your pet if its dangerous or a nuisance.

It will also make no difference to older developments that already have established bylaws, as well as new buildings where they’ve written their own.So, if you’re interested in buying or renting an apartment, always double-check whether the rules will work for your situation.

Where to from here?

While the changes will see Fair Trading NSW encourage strata schemes to review their by-laws and consider whether their existing ban should be lifted, it can still take some work convincing a stubborn body corporate or landlord.The RSPCA has these tips to help sweeten the deal.

  • Put together a ‘pet resume’ with detailed information about the pet’s medical status, as well as microchipping details, desexing certificate and council registration
  • Supply references from your vet/obedience trainer/previous landlord
  • Supply written declaration that you will pay for any damages caused to the property
  • Negotiate an agreement with the landlord/body corporate so they can come and visit the property to ensure no damage has been caused
  • Research your apartment complex – if other tenants/home owners have pets, cite them as an example of why you should be allowed to have a pet too
  • ALWAYS be up front and honest with your body corporate/landlord with your intention to own a pet. If you hide it, and get caught, you could be evicted
  • Have a plan to deal with pet waste
  • Make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise to reduce noise

We also know these days, small dogs aren’t necessarily the best breeds for apartment living.

Check out our guide to which breeds make the best apartment pets here and here.

What if my pet is refused?

  • Ask for the minutes of the owner’s corporation’s meeting to ascertain whether the refusal was unreasonable or not. If it was, seek legal advice.
  • People surrender their pets daily to shelters across Australia because of inflexible rental properties. Don’t be a statistic. Try and find another animal-friendly apartment for you and your pet to live happily ever after.