The pet dilemma


Question: I’ve got a Sydney ground floor investment unit with a small courtyard, which has been happily rented to a young couple for a couple of years. They’ve asked me if they can get a pet: I’d quite like to be able to allow them to, as they’re good tenants and I’d like to encourage them to stay for the long term. However, the strata says no to pets. Can I get them to change it? Is it worth the hassle? What would be the implications if I go against the strata and allow pets? 

Answer: Many strata schemes adopt the by-laws set out in the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 (NSW) which states that an owner or occupier of a lot must not, without the approval in writing of the owners corporation, keep any animal on the lot or the common property. 

However, by applying to the owners’ corporation, your tenant may be granted permission to keep a pet within your lot, although they may have to abide by certain conditions such as having a dog on a lead when on the common property and cleaning up after it. 

Your tenant should first seek your consent to keep the pet: the owners’ corporation consent may be sought by writing a letter to the secretary.

When preparing the letter, you should search the strata records for the property and see if there are other owners or occupiers of the building (current or past) who have kept pets in the scheme. This can provide a persuasive precedent for your request to keep your pet in the scheme. 

If the pet is already owned by a tenant, the following hints can be useful: 

  • describe the pet, including his or her size, age, and appearance;
  • give details of the pet’s disposition – if it is docile or friendly, remember to say so;
  • if the pet has undergone obedience or other behavioural training, provide details;
  • provide proof of registration/micro chipping, desexing and all necessary vaccinations; and
  • if the pet has been kept in a strata scheme or other residence previously, include references from your former landlords or neighbours that specifically mention the behaviour of your pet.

If pets are strictly not allowed and a pet is snuck into the unit, you could be forced to comply with the by-laws of the strata plan. If you fail to comply with the notice, the Owners corporation can apply for an order from the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal for a fine of up to $550 to be paid by the owner or occupier of the Lot. If you do not comply with an order made by an Adjudicator or the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal, a penalty of up to $5,500 may be imposed.

If consent is granted, the presence of your pet must not become a  nuisance for other residents in the strata scheme. Even though you may have the consent of the landlord and the Owners corporation, any owner or occupier within the scheme can apply for an order to remove a pet on the grounds that it is causing a nuisance.

Guide dogs are permitted regardless of any by-law. 

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