What are the rules about pets in strata apartments?

Bringing your furry friend home for the first time is a great experience, but if you are going to rent or purchase in a strata property, you must have obtained formal permission prior to keeping any animal. Being told by the real estate agent that the building is “pet-friendly” is not enough.

State to state, the rules vary about pets in community-living properties like apartments and townhouses. In Victoria, for example, tenants have the right to keep a pet (and can’t be denied a lease because they own a pet), and this can only be refused by Victoria Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) order. In New South Wales, the default is no longer to ban pets (as it was prior to a 2015 law change), but instead allow pets after you obtain written approval from the strata committee, which can’t be unreasonably refused.

However, this doesn’t consider a strata property’s individual by-laws. Even when legislation provides for the occupier of a strata apartment to have a dog, cat, or even bunny, that doesn’t mean you have the strata committee’s approval. As with all by-laws, each strata committee gets to choose which by-laws it wants to incorporate into their strata scheme.

Even if your building is pet-friendly, prior to bringing a pet into your strata property you’ll need to send a written request to the committee seeking permission.

The application could require the information such as:

  • A description of your pet, including his or her size, age, appearance and breed
  • Details of your pet’s disposition, for example, is your pet docile or friendly
  • Records of formal obedience or other behavioural training
  • Records to demonstrate that you are a responsible pet owner by having proof of registration, microchipping, de-sexing and all necessary vaccinations
  • Records of keeping your pet previously in a strata or other residence, including references from your former landlords or neighbours that specifically mention the behaviour of your pet

If you are in a rental property, under the current legislation the owner of the property is allowed to exercise their discretion on whether or not a pet is permitted by tenants in their individual apartment or unit. When seeking committee approval, a tenant’s application to have a pet should be submitted to them by the owner of the lot, not the tenant themselves.

It also pays to note that under the Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009, any person who relies on a guide, hearing or assistance dog (and who has the right to be on a lot included in a community titles scheme, or on the common property) has the right to be accompanied their service dog, regardless of a strata committee’s by-laws on pets.

For more information about navigating pets and strata, or the perfect pets for apartments, visits our other lifestyle articles.