Units, apartments and townhouses have generally been no-go zones for pets. In fact, most body corporate committees have strict bans on dogs and cats. But if you live in this type of home you might have noticed new animal residents popping up in your complex. And your body corporate seems powerless to do anything about it.
That’s because all over the country many pet owners have challenged the body corporate rules on no pets, and some of these dog and cat lovers have even ended up in court, winning the right to have their furry friends share their home. Now many complexes are softening the rules, allowing pets but applying what the law calls ‘reasonable’ conditions on pet owners. These might include having to apply for permission to keep a pet, and having to abide by anti-barking clauses.
The Queensland Body Corporate Act sets out some conditions for keeping pets, and states that occupants living in complexes run by body corporate committees cannot “without the body corporate’s written approval” keep or bring an animal into their home or onto common property. The law also states that if residents want to bring animal into their homes or onto common property they have to have written consent from the body corporate first.
The problem for many body corporate committees in this state and around the country is that they have modified this law and simply banned pets. But the Body Corporate Commissioner has ruled that most body corporate committees who apply a blanket ban to pets are being unreasonable and that a by-law which states animals are not allowed is actually invalid.
In the past few years there have been many cases where pet owners have challenged their body corporate by-laws and have won, and this sets a legal precedent that has many pet owners challenging or simply ignoring the strict rules on pet ownership in apartments.
Many body corporate committees are now wising up, and have new rules that assess pets on a case-by-case basis. Generally, if they approve a pet, they will place restrictions on the movement of the pet so it doesn’t disturb other residents. The approval can also be revoked if the animal is disruptive.
So, will we see a rush of dogs moving into apartments near you? Perhaps not, but for many body corporate committees working to align their by-laws with the state law, it could be a testing time, as pet-owning apartment dwellers finally find reason to flex their legal muscles.