Animals in apartments: body corporate law’s not clear cut
Buyers often ask us if they’ll be able to bring their cat or small dog to their new apartment or townhouse. Pets in apartments can be a touchy subject with plenty of emotion, and lately we’re seeing more buyers that are simply not happy to accept a body corp’s rejection of their moggy or mutt.
So can a body corp of current owners reject a pet? In many cases, no.
Each building has its own by-laws that apply and if they state “no pets” then that’s pretty clear. (Other than for guide dogs.) The majority of by-laws have wording to the effect that the committee must approve any pet application – and in some buildings the owners enforce a no pets policy by rejecting all applications out of hand.
This is the area that’s creating waves right now.
In one landmark decision an adjudicator with the Queensland Body Corporate and Community Management Commissioner’s office forced a committee to approve a cat. The Southport apartment owner suffered depression and had a doctor’s letter supporting the animal as a companion and “part of her therapy”.
The adjudicator noted that the by-laws said a pet could be kept with approval. “This means that the committee cannot simply adopt a “no pets ” policy but must exercise the discretion to approve a particular animal after consideration of the individual circumstances.”
Committee members should take care with this tricky topic.
Our main concern with body corporate law in Queensland is the lack of info and knowledge. Property owners don’t have easy access to it, most real estate agents know little so they’re not educating buyers, and most conveyancing lawyers give only a brief outline unless asked.
If you own a property in a body corp and have minimal to zip knowledge of the legalities don’t be embarrassed. You’re in good (and plentiful) company!
Commencing in September Bees Nees City Realty, in conjunction with Brisbane’s Stansure Strata Management, will be running a series of small seminars on some broad body corp topics. Insurances, getting involved in your committee, understanding your AGM agenda and budgets. The evening seminars will be held at our South Brisbane office and will be free of charge.
If you’d like more info email firstname.lastname@example.org