When purchasing a Strata Title property it is important to take note of the position of the Owners Corporation with regard to keeping pets in the property.
It is important that the Strata By-laws are inspected and these should be part of the Contract for Sale of Land. There should also be a title search for the Common Property of the Strata Scheme and this may make mention of either Option A, B or C as regards to keeping animals in the property.
Option A means that you need obtain written approval from the Owners Corporation before any animal is brought into the property, with the exception of fish in a secure aquarium. Under this option, the Owners Corporation cannot unreasonably withhold their approval.
Option B allows you to keep a cat, small dog, small caged bird or fish in a secure aquarium without needing to obtain the approval of the Owners Corporation. However, you have to let the Owners Corporation know how the animal will be kept on the property, it must be carried when on Strata Common Property and you are responsible for keeping the property and areas of the Common Property clean where the animal makes a mess. If you have an animal other than those listed in this option, the approval of the Owners Corporation will need to be obtained and again, this approval cannot be unreasonably withheld.
Option C means that no animals are allowed to be kept on the property with the exception of guide dogs, hearing dogs or any other trained and certified assistance animal.
If there is neither Option A, B or C noted on the Common Property title search then you will need to inspect the by-laws of the Strata Plan to see what the Owners Corporation’s position is with regards to keeping of pets.
There has been a recent development in the NSW Court of Appeal in the case of Cooper v The Owners – Strata Plan No. 58068  NSWCA 250 which looked at Section 136 and 139 of the Strata Schemes Development Act 2015. Section 136 gives the Owners Corporation the power to make by-laws in relation to the ‘management, administration, control … of a strata scheme’, however, section 139 states that a by-law cannot be ‘harsh, unconscionable or oppressive’.
In the Cooper case there was a blanket by-law stating prohibiting the keeping of pets in the Strata Scheme which was made under Section 136. The Court of Appeal held that this blanket prohibitive by-law did not have regard to the interest of all lot owners, nor was it for the benefit of all the lot owners and so was in beach under Section 136.
The effect of the Cooper case is that each Owners Corporation will need to carefully consider whether a ‘blanket approach’ to restricting pet in a Strata Scheme could be invalid if it is found that the keeping of an animal on a lot would not interfere with lot holder’s use of the property or Common Property nor if such restriction would not enhance or preserve the use of the lot or the Common Property by other owners in the Strata Scheme.
It is important that you know what you are buying into and what your options are with regard to keeping pets in a strata unit.
This is why it is important to have a pre-purchase strata report done on the property prior to purchasing. Not only will this report tell you whether there are any by-laws or restrictions on the keeping of pets in the plan, but it will also tell you other vital information about the running and operation of the strata scheme. We are always happy to help in this regard.