Pets play an important role in many people lives and are increasingly viewed as a deeply loved part of a family.
In 2020, it was established that 61% of Australian households have at least one pet. And no wonder; pet ownership is proven to improve your quality of life in many ways. Emotionally, owning a pet can help alleviate depression and anxiety, as well as help cope with loneliness. On a physical level, some studies suggest your pooch can improve your immunity, lower blood pressure and even decrease chances of having a stroke.
But let’s admit, pets are not for everyone.
And as it turns out, our own DNA is to blame. But let’s leave science behind and get down to business.
When buying an apartment or a townhouse, having a pet can become an issue as various spaces are shared between all owners and everyone has a say.
So how do you know that bringing your furry baby along to your new home won’t be a problem?
There are a few ways to get this confirmed.
1. Check the By-Laws
Every apartment block and majority of townhouse complexes will have a set of house rules, called By-Laws, that govern things like behaviour of residents, the use of common property and cover issues such as smoking, parking and noise levels. But most importantly, By-Laws also often indicate whether pets are allowed or not and whether any conditions apply.
You can get a copy of the by-laws with the contract for sale or with the Strata Report.
2. Speak to the Strata Management Company
Sometimes, keeping of pets is omitted from the By-Laws. In this case, you should contact the Strata Management Company or the Strata Committee directly to confirm pet policy for the complex you are planning to buy into. Strata details can be provided to you either by the selling agent or the vendor’s solicitor and in most cases can be found in the contract for sale.
Pets are allowed! Or are they?
Under the current Strata Scheme Management Regulation 2016, there are two Animal By-Law options permitting pets:
1. Option A
This option allows you to keep a pet if you give the Owners Corporation a written notice within 14 days after animal commences living on the lot. But this is where you need to be careful. Option A also specifies the number of pets you can keep, their type or size, as well as your responsibilities as a pet owner. So, for example, if you own two or more cats or dogs or a Great Dane, you need to get a preliminary confirmation in writing from the Owners Corporation (organised through a Strata Manager) that it will be fine for you to keep your pet/s on the lot if you buy it.
2. Option B
Here, you are allowed to keep a pet if you obtain a written approval of the Owners Corporation to keep an animal. It is important to understand that Owners Corporation can reject your application. If you believe it is unreasonable, you can dispute their decision. Naturally, it is important that you obtain such approval before you sign any papers for the property to avoid any stress further down the track.
And no matter which option, the Owners Corporation always reserves the right to ask for your pet to be removed from the property if they become a nuisance. This will be recorded either in the By-Laws or in your approval letter. So, if you know your dog is noisy or your cats are struggling to stay indoors, you may need to consider a different type of property.
Can pets be prohibited?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. While the most recent Regulation only contains two standard options, Owners Corporations can still register a Special By-law to prohibit pets if the majority of owners vote so. In some cases, only Assistance Animals are allowed, in others – none at all.
There is not much you can do in this situation and if having a pet is a make-or-break for you, you’ll have to move on to a more suitable property.
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