Pets and Body Corporates

pets and body corporates

My cat, tolerantly watching me type this article

Pets and body corporates account for the most common by-law breaches. Pets making noise, pets creating a nuisance, pets damaging common property and the ever popular pets without permission.

The issues of animals in strata schemes is polarising and the subject of much debate. This article is a brief overview of the rules and regulations regarding pets in Queensland body corporates.

Can I have a pet?

In the Rhode Island CTS 20573 decision in 2012 it was held that a by-law stating

Subject to the Body Corporate & Community Management Act 1997 an Occupier of a Lot must not:

– Bring or keep an animal on the Lot or the Common Property; or

– Permit an Invitee to bring or keep an animal on the Lot or Common Property …

was declared invalid. The by-law was declared invalid because it was found to be oppressive and unreasonable.

Without going into a thorough examination (read above if you’re interested) what this decision practically means for owners in strata schemes is the body corporate cannot make blanket by-laws that categorically prohibit any sort of activity, including having a pet.

This is so important it bears repeating: any by-law that states “no pets allowed” will, when challenged, be found to be invalid.

So, in short, yes, yes in most circumstances you can have a pet.

But wait, it’s not that simple

For all those who’re rubbing your hands together in glee, take a moment here. Things are never that simple in the body corporate world.

Firstly, pet approvals are always a matter between a body corporate and a lot owner. If you are a tenant you must abide by the conditions of your lease agreement, and if your Lessor says no pets nothing the body corporate says or does will in any way alter that.

Secondly, if your strata scheme does have a blanket prohibition on pets expect a fight on your hands.

The legislation allows that the body corporate can control keeping of pets in body corporates and there are plenty of schemes that have embraced the “no pet” policy.

And if they choose to stick with that policy, notwithstanding the decision above, you will need to actively challenge that by-law through the court system. The good news is you stand a reasonable chance of winning.

But consider, how welcoming is a community going to be when your first step is legal action to force a change you want but they don’t.

Thirdly the decision finds that pet approvals must allow pets. That doesn’t correspondingly mean any pet. The body corporate can, and will, put conditions on pet approvals.

That said, if you have a cat or a dog don’t lose hope; The QCAT decision McKenzie vs Body Corporate for Kings Row CTS found that to specifically exclude cats and dogs and allow other pets was also oppressive.

Pets and body corporates – conditionsbody corporates and pets

It’s allowable for body corporates to require that pets may only be kept on the body corporate subject to approval by the committee.

Unfortunately that means you can’t force the committees to accept your two German Sheppard’s or litter of kittens. It is within their rights to limit the number and size of pets that you may keep.

The most common conditions for keeping pets are:

  • Limit on the number of pets you may have
  • Limit on the size of pet you may have (usually a small dog or cat)
  • Requirements for pets to be neutered
  • Requirements for pets to be registered
  • Restriction on noise
  • Limits on common property interactions and your pets (meaning you may have the pet in the lot, not on the common property)

That last one I saw complained about in the local paper just recently. A lot owner was objecting to having to carry their dog from the lot, down in the lift out onto the road before putting down.

But consider it from the body corporate and other lot owner’s perspective; you have the pet, they do not. There should be no requirement for them to clean up after your pet in any way shape or form including little doggy footprints in the foyer.

Pets and body corporates – approvals

The process of obtaining a body corporate approval is fairly straightforward; write to the Committee asking for permission to keep your pet.

For some body corporates that’s pretty much it. You’ll get a yes or no reply.

Others however will ask for more information. Some common items asked for are:

  • Full details of the pet including name, age, weight, breed and identifying features
  • A full colour picture
  • Proof of shots and possibly proof the pet is neutered
  • References (yes, your pet may need a reference)
  • Council registrations

Whatever information has been requested it’s a good idea to provide in a timely manner.

It may seem overly comprehensive however the committee are charged with maintaining order. If an animal escapes it’s a good idea if the owner can be identified.

Yay, I’ve been given approval

Now that you’ve been given approval you need to abide by the conditions, if there are any, and make sure your pet doesn’t breach any of the by-laws.

The most common by-law breaches are:

  • Noise; barking dogs particularly
  • Damage to common property such as digging holes in the gardens
  • Defecating on common property
  • Creating a nuisance

Non-compliance with the conditions of the approval can result in the approval being withdrawn.

I’ve been denied permission! What do I do now?

Approval for your pet from the Committee must be sought before the pet moves in with you. If you’ve skipped that part it’s a good idea to make a request for approval straight away.

If you’ve made an application and approval was denied it’s not a good idea to move your pet into the property anyway. It will cause friction with the Committee and kick start the adjudication process.

Which, actually is the next step anyway. If you feel the denial was oppressive your next step is to seek adjudication. It is better for you to be seen to be respecting the rules and dealing with the matter in the prescribed form. It makes your position stronger.

You may or may not elect to involve a Solicitor at this stage.

All body corporate disputes in Queensland must be heard via the Office of Commissioner Body Corporate.

If you’re unhappy with the Adjudicators decision you may appeal the matter to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).

Conclusion

Australians love their pets and body corporates, and the legislation surrounding them, are finding that it’s necessary to adjust to accommodate them. Which is a great idea because I don’t think there’s any chance we’ll give up our pets.

photo credit: WilliamMarlow via photopin cc

THE BASICS OF BODY CORPORATES

A little knowledge can go a long way


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Comments

  1. why is this decision ( allowing pets in high rises ) not appealed in a higher court?
    What about people with allegies?

    • I believe the decision applied (re body corporates may not make blanket by-laws prohibiting usage of the scheme) stems from a higher court decision.

      If someone has allergies and would be affected by a pet in a neighbouring lot that would be an objection taken into consideration when deciding if the motion to deny was reasonable or not.

  2. And what about the other owners rights to live in a pet free environment? Where does that leave them?

    • Hi Amanda

      Presumably if you wish to live in a pet free environment you do not have a pet. What other owners choose to do in their lots is their right to control.

      The joint lot owners, through majority rules, may choose to make rules regarding the use of common property but they may not restrict a person’s free right to use their property as they see fit. They may make rules, the better to minimise disturbance to all owners, but to try and control what a person may or may not do in their property is a step too far.

      • I have pets and they stay at home when we go on holidays. The unit is in a small complex of 12 and no owner except the one wanting to bring the pet wants to have the potential problem pets can create. We have no onsite manager & therefore, everything has to be dealt with through the body corp committee. Yes, probably 90% of pet owners are responsible but it’s the 10% we don’t want to have to deal with. We have enough other petty problems to deal with as ‘volunteers’ in our ‘spare time’. Why can’t people just look for pet friendly places and respect the majority opinion of other owners? Hopefully when/if the Property Law Review is ever finalised the issue will be fixed to either have a building that allows pets or has the right to prohibit them.

        • I understand your frustration Amanda. One of the constants I see in body corporates is that one party or another will enforce their will through adjudication or committee resolutions. The problem is there is always a winner and a loser in that scenario and it is difficult for neighbours to recover to easy co-habitation once its happened.

          Who’s at fault though? The person who’s seeking to overturn a rule where all the other owners are content with no pets? Seems pretty rude of the newcomer to me. Equally, though, should someone not buy because other owners choose things one particular way? That’s far to restrictive for those who’re attempting to sell, and even more difficult to oversee.

          Better in my opinion to have level but strict playing field everyone must deal with that respects everyone’s autonomy with reference to their need not to disturb others. It puts the body corporate in a stronger position to maintain harmony as lot owners buy and sell their units.

  3. We have just had a tenant refused permission by body corporate for her keeping a sun conure? As the unit owner, we don’t feel this has been a fair decision and complaints made were not backed up by other tenants. Complaint had come from a chair person on the body corporate so how fair would the approval process be?

    • Hi Alyson

      If you have concerns regarding the fairness of an approval your best option is to act quickly. You may make an application for Adjudication seeking an outcome like “approve permission for the tenant to have a sun conure”. The Adjudicator will consider the merits of the case and has the power to make a decision ordering the body corporate approve the pet. Be aware, submissions are time sensitive and it can be quite a lengthy process with submissions called from all lot owners. Talk to the Office Commissioner Body Corporate or refer to the website for details.

      Your other option is to appeal to the committee, though as you say how can you expect a fair outcome. Presumably there are other committee members as well so it may be worth a shot. Alternatively you can put up a motion at a General Meeting that permission be granted for the pet. All owners would have the opportunity to vote and their collective decision cannot be overturned by the committee (though by themselves or an Adjudicator).

  4. Where can I find the actual wording from ruling that will help me with my application to body corporate? I want to attach legislation to the letter to prove I have done my research. Thank you

    • Hi Liam

      Great question.

      The short answer is follow this link to the Adjudicators Order website. From there select “Database Search” and enter your Boolean query, hit search and start reading.

      I used “Pets” and got a list of orders, the first dismissing an application (an older order) and the second overturning the by-law. What you’re looking for is circumstances in a scheme that most mirror yours.

      The long answer is … I’m planning on writing an article on the subject (in between being frantically busy) and if you’d like a step by step of how it might look then you could wait for that.

      • Hi, we live in a “Retirement Village” but actually they are marketing the Villas as Over 50’s…

        When we bought the villa we knew that it was a no pet complex. After living here now for more than two years we realise that a lot of the residents are very lonely and would like to have a pet as company.

        I have requested, as well as potential new buyers, for permission to have a pet, but it was declined by the body corporate. We are loosing potential quality new owners with this blanket decision. Even visitors are not allowed to bring their pets with, when visiting.

        I can understand that some residents won’t be able to look after a pet, but pets can give so much joy to those that are still able and want to have a small dog or indoor cat.

        Birds and fish are ok. When the village was first on the market, first buyers was allowed to have a pet until it died and then were not able to have pets there after.

        Any thoughts about how we can address this matter further, please?

        Thanks

        • Hi Gary

          I agree with you that pets are an important part of staying connected and dealing with loneliness.

          If there’s a blanket ban on pets you have two options. The first is challenge it through Adjudication, which is hit and miss depending on the facts and what can and can’t be proved.

          The second is to put forth a motion at general meeting that the by-law around pets be changed. Submitting a motion, particularly one regarding by-laws can be difficult to do as they’re put to the meeting exactly as they’re worded. If they can’t be enforced they’ll be ruled out of order. Maybe something like “the committee will review the by-law regarding pets with a view to allowing small pets, if this motion is passed” or something similar. That allows the owners to vote, the scheme to gain an idea of whether or not owners support pets and puts the onus on the committee to prepare the by-law (with help of body corporate resources).

        • Hi Gary,
          That is very interesting you say this. I am in the exact same position with my pet! An in a similar complex/ villas on the gold coast.

  5. Hi Lisa
    Recently a motion was lost 6/6 not to allow pets in the small fenced pool area and in the bbq area. The unsuccessful pet owner is now crying discrimination and is demanding the results of the secret ballot be overturned. Can they claim discrimination and how can they demand overturning of a vote my 12 lot owners.

    • Hi Lucy

      The body corporate must at all times be “reasonable”. The test of reasonableness is made by the Adjudicator or court based on the facts of each individual situation.

      It seems reasonable to me that some owners may not want pets on the common property and the courts seem to support this idea. Its is unreasonable to stop owners from having pets in their lots, but, maintaining pet free areas, or even all of the the common property is a different kettle of fish altogether. The first relates to a private area over which the scheme doesn’t have control, and the second a shared area which is the remit of the body corporate. Indeed you’ve gone to general meeting, had a secret ballot and the owners have have indicated their opinion.

      Trying to force the scheme to allow pets on common property is the flip side of trying to ban pets altogether. Its, in my opinion of course, unreasonable.

      The owner can try and overturn the votes through Adjudication citing unreasonableness, or yes, even discrimination. The Adjudicator has the power to declare the negative votes void and pass the motion. Given what you’ve told me it would seem a bit of a challenge to prove.

  6. Glenn Morgan says:

    Hi Lisa,
    One owner in our 7 villa complex does not clean up their large dogs excrement from their front lawn. Sometimes they leave the excrement there for a week or more and I have counted as many as a dozen piles of waste on their lawn. Their front lawn faces onto the street and is adjacent to the post boxes, therefore when collecting the mail the sight and odour is disgusting. This is not a good look also for our complex which is only 18 months old.

    Our Body Corporate Committee have asked these people on two (2) occasions to please clean up their dog mess at least on a daily basis but they have ignored all requests.

    We now have a majority of residents complaining about this matter and our committee will have to take some formal action.

    Are you able to give us some advice on what formal action we should take? I have been thinking that we need to amend our By-Laws to cover this type of issue.

    • Hi Glen

      Yikes. The committee is doing the right thing so far. The next step is to issue a contravention notice. There will be a by-law that is being contravened, possible “appearance of lots” or “pets” depending on the wording of your by-laws. A review would be a good place to start.

      Most pet approvals are subject to conditions so check those as well. If they are breaching the terms of the pet approval then the approval can be removed.

      In cases like this the most likely result will be to force the issue through Adjudication. Asking them to resolve the issue is the first step, which you’ve done, then issuing a contravention notice, then conciliation and finally Adjudication. Once an order is obtained it can be enforced through the Magistrates Court.

  7. Chloe Grard says:

    Hi,

    We are first home buyers buying a townhouse (with a large yard) in a complex. Other owners in the complex have dogs – you can hear them barking when we walk through the complex. This doesn’t bother us at all- we love dogs.
    I have placed an application to keep our border collie, however I have just heard from our real estate that the body corporate aren’t happy about her size (shes 25kgs). We don’t want to buy this house if we can’t keep our dog with us… Are they able to discriminate against the weight and breed of our dog? Especially if we will
    Be the owners of the lot? Thank you for your help!!

    • Hi Chloe

      It will depend what the by-laws say and the reason why. A lot of schemes do limit pets based on the size. Whether that is in line with principals of fairness is a decision for an adjudicator.

      I have seen someone successfully argue against size restrictions. Again however depends on the facts of the scheme

  8. Stan Jenkins says:

    I live on a 1 acre lot in an eco-village which consists of 124 lots set amongst 400 acres of common land. We currently have a by-law which states that animals can be keep with the consent of the Body Corporate. However dogs and cats are completely banned. Now that units etc are having to allow dogs and cats I think it would be very difficult for a group titles scheme like ours to still ban them. All lots are 1 acre so there is plenty of room for dogs and cats to run around without ever having to go onto common land. There are currently several properties for sale and the ban on cats and dogs is putting off potential buyers. Some BC members think that because we are called an eco-village the Commissioner would see us differently and there is more possibility that the by-law would be upheld. Could I have your thoughts on this please?

    • Hi Stan

      It seems a reasonable argument to ban cats and dogs because they would be a danger to native wildlife. And that, in my opinion, would be the crux of the case. The body corporate is always required to be reasonable, including in their by-laws. If it is reasonable to exclude cats and dogs because they would cause damage to the environment then they could have a shot at having the ban confirmed.

      That rather presumes the proximity of native wildlife. There’s 400 acres of common land. Unless you’re nestled up against a national park I don’t see that there is going to be a plethora of native animals in what is essentially still a housing development even if it is a Eco one. If there is no danger to native animals I don’t see why pets aren’t allowed.

      If the case was heard it would need to be a compelling argument, like demonstrably protecting the environment. The Adjudicators hears all arguments and then will make a decision on the basis of 1) the legislation and 2) reasonableness. They do not often see a reason to limit lot owners rights so the case would need to be strong indeed.

  9. Geraldine Crozier says:

    Hi,
    We’ve just been denied permission by the committee to keep our Mini Dachshund puppy. We’re unsure of what the next step should be in regards to disputing the decision, based on the fact other committee members in the past have been allowed cats and a committee members son also keeps a bird in his property. Other tenants have also been granted permission in the past for pets. Can you please advise what our next step should be, I’ve seen lots of talk of conciliation and adjudication but can’t work out if this is relevant to our situation. Thanks.

    • Hi Geraldine

      Conciliation and adjudication are your next steps. You cannot get to adjudication until you’ve gone through steps to try to resolve the issue yourself and tried conciliation.

      If you haven’t already I’d write to them objecting and asking them to reconsider. This is you trying to resolve the issue. Another option is to submit a motion to general meeting to have the pet approved and let all owners vote on the issue.

      If / when that doesn’t work contact the Office Commissioner Body Corporate and make an application. You’re seeking an order to have your pet deemed approved.

      Do note that the body corporate is required to act reasonably at all times. If there only objection is they don’t like dogs that is unreasonable. It might be more difficult if they actually have a reasonable reason for refusing, like say your immediate neighbour is severely allergic.

  10. The body corporate gave permission for us to have 2 cats , we own the townhouse. This was obtained via the real estate agent before we bought it , we wouldn’t have if we couldn’t have them. Out of courtesy we applied and was granted permission to have them in our townhouse. Now they say there are complaints about them using other people’s propert to poo and sit on their furniture and go into their garage. Our cats use the same place to go to the toilet and that is on my property. As for going on furniture , they may have but wouldn’t sit there as they are timid . There are 2 other cats in the area, 1 lives next door . The body corporate are threatening to rescind permission to have them. Cats roam around but are locked inside at dusk . We’ve been there 6 months and nothing but hassle from these people. There are 5 in the block, 2 are rented. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks

    • Hi Julie

      That’s a difficult one. The body corporate must react to other owners complaints. The next logical step for them would be to install cat traps. The best thing you can do is keep your cats inside all the time. That way there is no chance that its your cats causing the issues. If you let your cats out any time there is no way of saying that its not them who are causing the nuisance.

      If permission is withdrawn your only option will be to dispute the action through conciliation and adjudication.

  11. Hi we are looking to purchase a townhouse, which is situated along a train line and separate from the main complex. We have applied for pet approval and been denied but given no reason. So we have re-applied but this time, we have supplied more detail, our Staffy x dog is elderly, blind & deaf, sleeps all day and rarely barks plus the current owner has supported our application. We also offered to get references from both past & current neighbours & our vets. We still have not heard back and time is of the essence as we have changed the contract 3 times pending pet approval and the owner understandably won’t change again. We should have moved in by now and wonder what are our options now? Thank you Gaynor

    • Hi Gaynor

      If you don’t get given approval your only option is to seek Adjudication.

      Step one is to check the by-laws of the scheme and see what they say about the pet. If they are blanket by-laws, as in “no pets” then are not enforceable. If it’s no pets without approval then they should give you a reason why approval has not been given. To withhold approval without explaining why is unreasonable. If they give a reason it will need to be a v. good reason or it will be considered unreasonable.

      Make an application to the Commissioner Body Corporate seeking an order the pet be deemed approved. You can find the office here. First you must show that you have tried to resolve the complaint yourself. The second application will go a long way toward that. Correspond with the BCM following up as well.

      Its a difficult situation Gaynor. It is likely going to be time consuming. FYI, they will have to go through the same process to get the dog out.

      • Thank you Lisa

        We’ll keep trying…one problem we have to vacate our rental property asap.

        • Hi Gaynor

          I’m not sure whether you’ve settled on the property or not, but if you have, your options are to move in with the dog or without.

          If you move in with the dog the body corporate will likely issue a breach notice. To enforce the notice they will need to make an application for Adjudication.

          If you move in without the dog then you will need to make an application for Adjudication to get the dog approved.

          It will come down to “who pulls the trigger”.

          If you haven’t settled I guess the option is to walk away.

  12. I have land in a strata title eco village, with by laws preventing lot owners from keeping of dogs & cats to protect the native wildlife.

    Where does the body corporate stand on this if somebody wants to keep a dog or a cat as a pet?

    One of the reasons I purchased land in the eco village was because of the no dogs or cats policy!

    • Hi Brant

      Land in an eco village might qualify as a “reasonable” reason to ban pets. But then, it’s also possible for owners to have pets and keep them indoors.

      Many schemes new pet by-laws include conditions that the pet is only ever on common property passing through. Cats are not allowed to roam and dogs must be hustled over and off the common property, even via certain avenues like stairwells and basement car parks. It’s common property and it is reasonable to want it free from pets.

      It is not reasonable to control what the owners do in their own lots. So long as the pet causes no nuisance to the other owners and is retained within the lot there shouldn’t be a problem.

  13. In my opinion and experience Body Corporates are a joke. Most Body Corporates are made up of pathetic narrow minded huns who have too much time on their hands. I believe that the laws should be changed and Body Corporates should be phased out. They never really do a good job maintaining the complexes/ properties and the fees are never really utilized/ or put to positive use. God help the next Body Corporate I come into contact with! Not my first time at the rodeo.

    • Hi Dan

      Thanks for commenting. You’re not the first and you won’t be the last to have a negative experience with a body corporate. You cannot phase out a body corporate though without phasing out apartment buildings and that’s unlikely to happen.

  14. The by-laws in my complex allow for 1 dog or cat. What is required to get permission to keep and additional dog. Must the by-law be amended through a general meeting and registering a new CMS, or is there another more simple way to get permission (eg permission from all lot owners to allow both dogs but when one dies it cannot be replaced). I have two old miniature dachshunds.

    • Hi Penny

      Getting approval for two pets might be a challenge, particularly as the scheme does allow one.

      I suggest you write to the committee, explain the pets are older, and ask for an exception to have them until they pass. They might grant it.

      If they don’t you have the option to put the same motion up to be voted on by owners at a general meeting… notwithstanding the by-law.

      Changing the by-law will allow a special resolution at general meeting or an order of an Adjudicator. Try the steps above first and if that doesn’t work then seek I’d try seeking conciliation.

  15. Gary Williams says:

    Hi Lisa,
    This is a very interesting and informative blog , thank you for putting in such an effort for people. My own inquiry involves my daughter. She has lived in a flat for 2 years and wants to have her cat with her. The cat was living with a friend until a year ago and has been living with us since. We are moving to a rental and cannot take the cat with us. She has gone through what we thought was the correct procedure, starting with approval from the letting agent, approval from the unit owner and applied to the Body Corporate. The Body Corporate wanted proof of the Cats registration and desexing. The cat lives completely indoors and would not be outside the unit unless she was taking him to the vet etc. She offered to pay an extra bond to the agent if required. She has just heard from the agent that the body corporate has said no and is terribly upset as you can imagine. There has been no reason given. My daughter’s neighbour told her of one owner occupier in the complex, the sole owner occupier, who does not like cats and is on the BC committee. This person does not live in the same section of the block. I am after some advice as to what we can do next. I would like to appeal what I believe is an unreasonable decision. I can understand if the pet in question could have an effect on the fellow tenants and common areas eg. a boisterous dog but a house trained, house cat would, in my opinion would have no effect at all. I have not seen the Body Corporate Laws and rules but the fact that they would decide on the fate of the pet, at a meeting, would suggest that there is no rule regarding exclusion of pets, and no Rule number was given to the Agent, rather a vote was taken. I hope you can help us with some suggestions of a way forward.

    • Hi Gary

      First you need to get a copy of the by-laws for the scheme. Your daughter should be able to ask her managing agent to get for her. Read the pet by-law. If there are conditions, ensure your abide by all the conditions including vaccinations etc. Then reapply.

      If there is still denied with no reason given then you can make an application for Adjudication with the Commissioner Body Corporate that the pet be deemed approved. Then it’s a question of your daughter putting forward her case, them putting forward there’s, rebuttal and then a decision.

      To make an application you need to have attempted to resolve the situation. Hence the re-submission of the request. It will be a long drawn out process I’m afraid which is how many schemes get a away with this sort of behaviour.

  16. Graeme Dunn says:

    Hi Lisa,
    We live in a townhouse complex and one of the new owners has made an application to the BC Committee to have a desexed 4 year old daschund and a 3 month old male rottweiler. I have concerns about the latter dog. I have consulted with a dog expert and he has advised that the breed is an alpha one, particularly males, and will at the very least require correct training and be socialised.
    I understand that it is extremely difficult to refuse animals, but can it be refused on the basis of the breed?

    • Hi Graeme

      The body corporate must be reasonable at all times. So if you can deny the pet for a reasonable reason, and your body corporate by-laws support that reason then it might be OK.

      The most common sort of things are restrictions in by-laws are restrictions on numbers of pets, weight sizes, and usage of common property. For instance, some schemes by-laws require owners carry their pets across common property and the reasoning behind that is it should not be left to the body corporate to clean up behind one owner’s pet.

      Reasonable reasoning for the denial is allowable. What constitutes reasonable? That’s a good question and is judged on the merits of each situation.

      • Graeme Dunn says:

        Hi Lisa,
        Thank you for your reply. No doubt the question of what is reasonable is a very subjective one.

        Thanks once again
        Graeme

        • Hi Graeme

          Yeah. “The what is reasonable?” debate has been raging over the last 18 months. The latest, a Supreme Court decision, says its to be decided on a case by case basis following a review of the facts of each circumstance.

          • At the end of the day the owners are responsible the behaviour and care for their pets. Keep them within the boundary/ inside, have them on a leash when on the common property, clean up after them. We have a reasonable sized back yard, two 20kg dogs that we have had for 10 years and hardly anyone knows that we have them as they are so quiet. The smaller ones yap at everything that goes past.

  17. Ken Railton says:

    Help!
    I am an 81 year old ex ADF type on a disability pension. My sprightly young wife is 75. We had a Tenterfield for a couple of weeks off 16 years and had to do that deed at the end of 2014. We loved her dearly, still do, and she almost set the culture of the house. Because of her part in our family, getting over her loss has not been easy. So, when we moved to a new address in March 2016, there was no thought of another dog. However, the by-laws did say that if we had come with one that we could seek approval for him/her. Not approval, but permission to seek it.
    We moved to a townhouse development where we have well fenced, or walled courtyards at both ends of our dwelling. So, complete privacy and ability to control a dog’s movements, distractions and barking patterns. We also have a gate to the park next door, so never need to cross hallowed ground. The downside of the culture here is that there had recently been a badly behaved owner with up to three dogs – and who worked, so barking was almost constant. Hence, bad vibes around dogs.
    We have finished travelling, age and disability having had their say and while at home most of the time, our son and family (and their dog), live just a couple of Kms away and would dog sit.
    In summary: We wrote to the committee seeking approval for a dog, bearing in mind we don’t have one yet and won’t until or unless we receive approval. (The ADF thing again!). I attended the meeting, was not asked to make any comment or given any chance to speak to my application, or answer any questions. I could only watch the members vote purely on their own personal experiences and preferences arising, with no mention or consideration of fairness or reasonableness, let alone any placing of undue restrictions on our lives. We got a resounding NO, but no reason was given, I also have not received any written advice of their decision to refuse but defer to the AGM in March of this year.
    The glitch in the by-laws is that if you don’t bring a dog with you, there is no avenue to have one approved. I think this is unreasonable by any definition of the word, especially that people who live up to 50M away can decide on who we live our life in our own home, as long as we do not create any nuisance. We accept that behavioural requirements are laid down, are reasonable and must be obeyed. However, how do you got to be responsible to them?
    At the moment it seems that we must wait another couple of months to the March AGM and when our request is refused, as the committee tell me it will be, appeal to the Office of the Commissioner and if that fails, look for a high bridge!
    The love and companionship of a dog is very important to me, especially as failing hearing works to exclude one from a great deal of social interaction – and requires the TV to be loud! Our Missy never complained about either and in the recovery from almost ten fairly major surgeries in the last decade or so, she never put a foot wrong in how she shared her company with me. But, there seems to be a belief that we don’t know our needs or how to behave as model citizens and that others, mainly with far less life experience, should have this ‘control’ over our lives.
    My questions are: Do you have any suggestions? Is my surmise correct? and if so, do I and how do I find any specialist assistance that may be required?
    Thank you if you have stayed with me to here, it is a long and boring story, I accept.

    • Hi Ken

      That’s quite a story. It does sound like the body corporate is being unreasonable. They cannot restrict pets completely from the scheme. And your summation is correct. You will need to make an application for adjudication that the approval be granted on the basis your committee / owners / by-laws are unreasonable.

      I assume at the AGM the motion to keep a pet is to be decided by the owners? I would let that take it’s course because it’s a help to you in making an Adjudication Application. Before you can you are required to try and resolve the situation yourself. An application to the committee that’s denied and another to the owners is enough attempts to resolve. There is also always the possibility that the motion will get passed.

      I know its frustrating to have to go through these steps but it will be worth it in the end. There does not seem to be any reason not to have a pet and a simple “the neighbours don’t like it” is not good enough to stop you. Committees do restrict things though because unless someone complains, not a simple process, nothing changes.

      • Ken, if you believe that it is worth fighting for don’t give up. I have been through the process on other issues and have had success through the Commissioners Office.

  18. I notice you mention dog’s weight a few times. What might that weight be – eg over 40 kilos etc ?
    Many medium dogs – eg Goldens and Labs are easily 30 kilos. Carrying them in and out might not be possible for many older people – ie would not be “reasonable”. Also – re walking on common ground – dogs would be no more messy than humans. In the wet they might leave a paw print.

    I tend to agree with some rules – eg a limit on number, on noise, in pool area, clean-up etc. But – “horses for courses” I guess – no pun in tended.

  19. I want to look after my friends dog while they are away on holiday. The owner of my apartment has approved the dog but the body corp has said no based on her size and weight…..

    If i go ahead and look after the dog for the one week, where do i stand?? I really feel the decision is discriminatory and unfair – there are plenty of other dogs in the building and i’m pretty sure they dont’ all fit into the weight and height category!!

    Thanks in advance…..

    • Hi Anon

      This is a difficult one, but only because of the short term of the stay. It is possible that there are weight restrictions in the by-laws, however, it is also likely that a by-law that prohibits on weight is unreasonable. There is nothing to suggest a bigger dog is more disturbing to owners than a smaller one and Orders have been made striking down decisions excluding pets based on size.

      Were it a permanent issue I would suggest objecting to the by-law via application for Adjudication via Office Commissioner Body Corporate but the whole thing will be over before you even got a reply. For your information to get you to remove the dog the body corporate would need to issue a breach notice and then, if the dog is not removed then also seek adjudication to remove the dog. Again the dog would be gone before any substantial action could be taken and the whole matter is dropped.

      So you choices are, ignore the body corporate and take the dog anyway and deal with the fallout. Be aware that could generate bad blood you’ll have to live with after the dog is gone. Or alternatively, don’t take the dog. If you decide on the first I’d think about sending a letter of objection and asking for approval again.

      Big choice; good luck.

  20. Hi LIsa,
    Can you advise me if a by law needs to be changed, where none exists to allow pets OR can a person apply to the committee, where the bylaw is as per the legislation? I find this a bit confusing
    Thank you

    • Hi Sarah

      Apply to your committee first. Most likely you’ll need to, and its simply courtesy. They can instruct from there.

      • Thanks Lisa, I am on the committee and as we do not have a by law (we follow the current law on this one) I have created a template that could be used by applicants to apply for a pet. But I have been told to change a bylaw we need a motion that will go to all owners which is different to applying to keep a pet to the committee, so I am a little confused as to exactly what I have to do? I hope that makes sense?

        • Hi Sarah

          That’s correct. A motion to amend by-laws needs to be passed by special resolution at general meeting. If the motion is passed the scheme then has three months within which to amend their Community Management Statement and register the by-laws.

          The cost can be significant so if you’re going to amend one by-law it can be worth amending all of them. Most schemes engage a Strata Solicitor to review for them.

          If you don’t want to go to the expenses you can make “House Rules”. House Rules are binding but if they contradict the by-laws or the legislation then they are unenforceable. It sounds like you’re making a House Rule about pets.

          • Thank you Lisa – I was of the impression we could have agreements that were endorsed by the committee rather than go through the whole process to change a by law.

            Can a person receive authority to have a pet from the committee without the by laws being updated?

          • Hi Sarah

            You can have endorsements from the committee, absolutely. You don’t need to update the by-laws for that. Further the agreements are binding.

            What you need to be aware of is, if challenged, anything the committee does will be put aside in favour of the legislation first and by-laws second.

  21. hi Lisa
    Thanks for the service you provide here it really is very helpful.
    can you provide some advice please.
    We have a situation in our large complex where visitors occasionally bring their dogs on site whilst visiting family or friends.
    The policy here is that pets may be allowed(subject to some conditions eg size and restraints in common areas) for OWNERS subject to body corporate approval in writing.
    Situations have arisen where visitors bring their dogs on site and walk them through common areas and on occasion into the swimming pool.
    When asked to desist the receipient owners in question dispute the matter and off course question the capacity and abilities of the committee.
    Are you able to shed some light on the situation of visitors and their dogs.

    • Hi Ronald

      Visitors and their dogs are a problem for bodies corporate. There are specific ways in which the body corporate must handle disputes – contravention notices with time frames and then adjudication. Obviously when someone is there right then with their dog its not a useful process at all. Its the same problem with towing vehicles. But legislation is clear on the remedies and they must be followed to be legal.

      Prevention is best. So things like having “no animals” signs made up for the pool and around the scheme, maybe even at the front gate. If you have a Caretaker have them respectfully police any breaches. More a reminder than anything dramatic. The broken record technique is going to be your best bet here. The idea is to get the lot owners onside so they help in policing the visitors.

  22. Hi can the body corporate make you desex your dog? I have a two kilogram Chihuahua that I would like to breed, we live in large 460m2 Penthouse 10 stories?

    • Hi Gaby

      This is a difficult question. The scheme probably has by-laws that allows them to insist that animals be desexed. The question is “is that reasonable?” Bodies corporate can’t just exclude things because of a whim. There must be valid reasons why.

      If the body corporate fails to approve your application you could seek adjudication on the grounds that whether the dog is desexed or not won’t have any impact on it causing a problem to other residents. Essentially you’d have a court case where both sides present their reasoning and an impartial Adjudicator decides. Speak with the Office Commissioner Body Corporate if you choose that route.

  23. In 2007 after a Horrible Marrital Breakdown..after having moved 3 times in 8 weeks with my 2 and a half year Old Son and our little Maltese Cross “Charlie” in Tow..My Girlfriend and Husband offered me a Townhouse in a Small Block of 7..After a week I received a letter from he Body Corp services saying it was against the rules to have the Dog..I was so distraught at the the prospect of having to move again.Peter,My Friends Husband drove an Hour from the Sunshine Coast Seized the letter from me and marched into the Body Corp Office and told them Politely and Very Firmly in his German Accent,that As He Owned the Unit it was at his Discretion that I was Allowed to have a Small Dog in the Unit,he knew the Dog and that irt was a Quiet Family Pet,he had also Stipulated to me that I was Only Allowed to have 1 other Adult living there and that was at the “Owners Discretion”..I Never Heard Peep out of them Again.I did find out that there is an Elderly Woman on the Committee who still lives there that Dislikes Animals and as a Matter of fact>>>Anything that moves!!! lol

  24. Hi Elene

    That doesn’t sound good. Whether or not your owner allows dogs is only half of the equation. The body corporate may not ban pets entirely but they can expect owners to abide by rules, one of which is obtaining permission. Its good manners really, in a shared environment, to ensure everyone is informed.

    Getting up in the face of an elderly women doesn’t sound particularly pleasant. I feel for her.

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