This year the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (NSW) was amended to insert a new s 137B which states that a strata scheme can no longer unreasonably prohibit the keeping of a pet in the lot. This amendment comes after a string of cases in NSW courts dealing with the topic of pets in strata schemes.
Section 137B(1) states that a by-law or a decision by an Owners Corporation under a by-law is to have no effect to the extent that it would unreasonably prohibit the keeping of an animal. Further, subsection (2) clarifies that it is ‘reasonable’ to keep an animal on a lot unless the keeping of the animal interferes with another occupant’s use and enjoyment of the occupant’s lot or the common property.
Some examples of unreasonable interference with another’s use or enjoyment of their lot include that the animal makes a persistent noise that occurs to a degree that it unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of another occupant, that the animal repeatedly runs at or chases another occupant, that the animal attacks or otherwise menaces another occupant, that it causes damage to the common property or another lot, or that it endangers the health of another occupant.
Owners Corporations should be aware that any by-laws imposing a blanket prohibition on pets will now be unenforceable. Instead, they may wish to implement pet policies or a pet register to better manage pets in a strata scheme.