In all the kerfuffle over the new strata regulations, pet bylaws predictably got their fair share of column inches, internet clicks and confusion.There is more than one rule governing pet ownership in apartment buildings. Illustration: John Shakespeare
To be clear, there are two new model pet bylaw options on offer and both are available to developers when they set up a new strata scheme.
Option A says you can have a pet if you inform the committee within 14 days. Option B says you can have a pet provided you have written permission which can’t be “unreasonably” refused.
Model bylaws can be adopted by 75 per cent of votes at a general meeting of the owners of existing schemes, but they do not supersede any valid and registered bylaws already in place.
A third bylaw, for pre-1996 buildings, says you can’t have a pet unless you get the written permission of the committee which, again, they can’t unreasonably refuse. It’s similar to Option B, but “no pets” is the default position.
The pre-1996 scheme bylaws automatically apply where there are no existing bylaws covering a whole range of issues.
Which brings us to an option not in the new regulations but encountered by Flatchatter Micksik, who bought into a unit block without first checking the bylaws. Sadly, the block bans pets.
This is the exact wording: “Subject to section 58(12) of the Strata Titles Act 1973, a proprietor shall not keep any animal upon his lot or the common property.”
Micksik’s options are to give up his dog, find somewhere else to live or persuade his neighbours that it’s time to upgrade 20-year-old bylaws, registered by people who probably don’t live there now.
In fact, we all have to review our bylaws within 12 months after the new strata laws come in on November 30, so that might be his best bet.
Alternatively, he could take his (very slim) chances on the tribunal (NCAT) chocolate wheel, where common sense is often in short supply.
I was told recently about an owner who challenged a pet ban on the grounds that the relevant bylaw wasn’t being properly enforced. When it was discovered that the bylaw had never been registered, the tribunal member ruled against him because he was appealing against a non-existent bylaw. Amazing!
There’s more on Micksik’s dilemma, including a link to a story about a couple who successfully had their pet by-laws changed, on flat-chat.com.au.
Date: 20th August 2016
Author: Jimmy Thomson