When find­ing the right home, you want to make sure the entire fam­i­ly can move in, this, of course, includes four-legged and oth­er ani­mal mem­bers. In late 2020, the NSW Court of Appeal hand­ed down a deci­sion that was a win for the pets.

Sta­ta by-laws can cur­rent­ly include a blan­ket ban on pets for build­ings under a stra­ta scheme (i.e., apart­ments, town­hous­es).

In Coop­er v The Own­ers Stra­ta Plan No. 58068, two prop­er­ty own­ers fought in a four and a half year-long lit­i­ga­tion to keep their minia­ture schnau­zer in their apart­ment build­ing. The New South Wales (NSW) Court of Appeal ruled that the by-laws were oppres­sive by nature, uncon­scionable and can­not stand.

This lat­est deci­sion can now be used as a bind­ing prece­dent through­out NSW for oth­er own­ers who have their pets blocked by by-laws.

What does this mean for own­er-occu­piers?

This NSW Court of Appeal deci­sion has now made it extreme­ly hard for by-laws to jus­ti­fy hav­ing a blan­ket ban on all pets. Whilst assis­tance ani­mals can­not be exclud­ed from stra­ta premis­es, domes­tic pets will now like­ly be allowed in NSW.

What does this mean for land­lords?

Regard­less of the new deci­sion for by-laws, land­lords can­not ban assis­tance ani­mals. How­ev­er, they will have the author­i­ty to pro­hib­it pets in their invest­ment prop­er­ty for ten­ants.

What does this mean for ten­ants?

Renters have long faced issues with keep­ing pets in rental prop­er­ties. How­ev­er, the sen­ti­ment is chang­ing with the major­i­ty (approx­i­mate­ly 61%) of Aus­tralians own­ing a pet.

Even if the by-laws of an apart­ment build­ing allow pets, land­lords will still have the author­i­ty to nom­i­nate if their prop­er­ty pro­hibits or allows pets. There­fore, renters should find a pet-friend­ly prop­er­ty.

Not­ing again that assis­tance ani­mals can­not be banned.

What should I do if my prop­er­ty has a stra­ta ban on pets?

This NSW Court of Appeal deci­sion can now be used as a bind­ing prece­dent in all of New South Wales.

It is rec­om­mend­ed that the owner’s cor­po­ra­tions review the by-laws of their premis­es in line with this deci­sion. If the owner’s cor­po­ra­tion dis­agrees or is unsure whether a by-law is oppres­sive, they can apply to the Tri­bunal for a deter­mi­na­tion.

For advice on your spe­cif­ic sit­u­a­tion con­tact the team at Dono­van Oates Han­naford.

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