Keeping a pet in a body corporate property

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Keeping a pet in a body corporate property

What you need to know about pets in body corporate property

 

Bringing your furry friend home for the first time is a joyous experience, but regardless of what type of animal it is, be it a cat, dog, or guinea pig, if you live in, or plan to purchase a body corporate property, you must first obtain body corporate permission prior to keeping a pet.

Being told by the real estate agent that the building is pet friendly is not enough. The only exception to the rule is for guide, hearing or assistance dogs and other support animals.

Getting body corporate approval for your pet

The standard by-law in the Body Corporate and Community Management (BCCM) Act provides that written approval must first be obtained before bringing, or permitting an invitee, to bring an animal onto the lot or common property.

However not all bodies corporate use the standard by-laws and may have opted to modify their pet by-law, so, the first step to obtaining permission, is to check your building’s by-laws on your building’s pet rules.

If you are renting and don’t have a copy of your building’s by-laws, call your property manager to get a copy. You will also need the approval of your landlord before proceeding. Your pet application should be submitted to the body corporate by the owner of the lot.

If you are an owner or are looking to buy into a body corporate property, call your body corporate manager to obtain a copy of the by-laws, or ask your real estate agent for a copy.

Who decides if I can have a pet?

If the by-laws allow pets subject to approval, then the committee is responsible for making the decision and ensuring the by-laws are abided by. If pet approvals are a restricted issue, the matter may need the vote of all owners.

When applying for the approval, you need to include as much detail about your pet as possible such as the breed, age, photos, details of the veterinary history and training, as well their size and weight, registration, microchipping, and de-sexing details.

Guide, hearing and assistance dogs

If you have a disability under the Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009 and rely on your dog, you do not need to ask permission before bringing a dog into a body corporate property.

Along with guide dogs for the sight-impaired, the category includes dogs or other animals which aid and support to those suffering conditions like psychiatric disability. A by-law cannot exclude or restrict a right given by this section.

What if the body corporate refuses consent?

The body corporate cannot unreasonably withhold consent to a pet application, especially if the applicant has met all the requirements. Adjudicators of several recent cases have also determined that by-laws that outrightly prohibit pets are invalid as they are considered ‘harsh, unconscionable and oppressive’ by-laws.

If the body corporate refuses to approve a pet application, there are several routes of appeal that owners or tenants can take, namely, dispute resolution in the form of mediation, adjudication or appeal, to have the decision possibly overturned if they believe the withheld consent was unreasonable.

Tenants should seek advice from the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal, while owners should contact the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management.

Grounds in which it may be deemed to be unreasonable include:

  • There’s an existing by-law to have “no pets”
  • If a body corporate refuses to consider or ignores a request to keep a pet
  • If the owner has met all reasonable requirements, and consent has been withheld without a valid reason
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If there is no specific by-law that regulates keeping pets in your building, you do not need to ask for permission, however, you must still consider the other body corporate by-laws, such as noise, and whether your pet is suitable for apartment living. If your pet is likely to cause a nuisance, your body corporate can make an application to the Tribunal for an order to remove the animal under section 167 of the BCCM Act.

Also, you could check to see if there have been previous owners or occupiers of the property that have owned a pet. This can be a persuasive precedent for your request for a pet.

Conditions of approval

If approved, the body corporate may place conditions on the approval to maintain harmony, examples of conditions may be:

  • Your pet should not roam freely on common property
  • The owner is responsible for any mess caused by your pet
  • Your pet must be kept in good health and free from fleas and parasites
  • Your pet must be on a lead or adequately restrained while on common property.

Valid complaints about your pet may result in body corporate approval being revoked.

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How long does it take for the body corporate to make their decision?

The body corporate committee must act within a reasonable time frame. If the committee cannot or does not decide on the lot owner’s request, they can present their proposal as a motion for the body corporate to vote on at a general meeting.

If you’d like to find out more on managing pets in a body corporate property, click here to download our FREE Community Living and pets guide. Or click here for a consultation to review your pet by-laws by our Kemps Petersons Legal team.


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