Australia has one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world.

In fact, according to the Pet Industry Association website, more Australians live in a home with a cat or dog than with a child. And with Australians spending more than $12 billion every year on four-legged friends, it’s clear pets are here to stay.

Whether you’re a dog or a cat person, or some other furry, scaled or feathered creature is your best friend, pets can provide valuable companionship and comfort. But not everyone wants to share their apartment block with them.

The rules around pet ownership is an issue that affects both owner-occupiers and tenants, but particularly those in apartments. With 87% of all the properties in our suburb apartments, and 34% of all the properties in Darling Point rented according to Census data, it’s a topic I get asked a lot of questions about.

So, what are the strata regulations around pet ownership in Darling Point’s many apartments?

What’s the law on pets and strata properties?

According to NSW strata by-laws, pets are allowed in strata properties, with written notification to, and approval from, the owners’ corporation. This includes apartment blocks, townhouse complexes and villas. Owners of an assistance animal must provide evidence to the owners’ corporation that the animal is an assistance animal.

However, earlier this year two apartment buildings in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs won the right to a blanket ban on all pets throughout the buildings.

But in October 2020, the NSW Court of Appeal overturned the right of strata schemes to pass by-laws banning pets in strata complexes, after a five year legal battle fought by a resident of the Horizon Building in nearby Darlinghurst over a miniature schnauzer called Angus.

Angus has been allowed to stay, and the law now states that a blanket ban across a whole building is not permitted anywhere in the state, and that such a ban would be in breach of NSW strata scheme legislation.

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So I no longer need strata approval to get a pet?

It’s not quite so straightforward. The new ruling only refers to a blanket ban on an entire building. It’s unlikely that any existing requirements around written notification within an individual building, and for individual residences, would be affected. And it’s important to note that written notification applies to both owners and tenants, who must both seek permission.

What about tenants, specifically?

If you rent, you are subject to both the strata requirements of your building and also the requirements of your lease.

Many properties in Darling Point are investment properties, and some landlords may be reluctant to allow pets in their properties for fear of damage or disruption. But the reality is most pet owners are responsible, and most well-trained pets are much loved and well-behaved. In fact, accepting pets can be a way to attract a wider pool of tenants.

If you’re a tenant with a pet, it can be a good idea to get written references from previous landlords or create a pet CV, showing you are a responsible pet-parent and that the animal is well cared for. A cute photo never goes astray!

The Tenants’ Union of NSW has a helpful, comprehensive list for tenants. The main points it outlines are:

  • Within the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW) there is no clause to prohibit a tenant from keeping a pet. There is also nothing requiring you to ask a landlord’s consent before you get a pet.
  • Keep in mind, however, that landlords are allowed to include a clause in your lease stating that no pets are to be kept at the property. Check the details of your lease, or talk with your landlord or agent.
  • Most strata schemes will include by-laws about pet ownership. These might, for example, state that a pet can be owned after consultation and approval by the body corporate (which is the same as for owner-occupiers). Your landlord or real estate agent must provide you with a copy of any strata by-laws within seven days of you moving into the property.
  • You have a responsibility to other residents to ensure your pet is not noisy or a nuisance, otherwise, you could breach your tenancy agreement. Again, this common courtesy also extends to owner-occupiers.

Still confused?

If in doubt, it’s always best to check the strata requirements for your particular building or complex before buying or renting. Whether you are an owner-occupier or a tenant, you must comply with the strata by-laws and if you’re a tenant, you also need to consult your lease.

Looking to buy or sell in Darling Point? Contact me today.