Do Landlords have the right to refuse pets in a strata building?
A recent ruling by the NSW Court of Appeal, which struck down an attempt from a well-known Sydney building to ban pets, relates to ‘blanket bans’ in by-laws of strata schemes which as a result of this ruling now makes these types of by-laws invalid.
The Court of Appeal ruled that a by-law imposing a blanket ban on the keeping of animals at the Horizon apartment tower in Darlinghurst was oppressive and breached strata laws: section 139(1) of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (the Act) prohibits a by-law from being harsh, unconscionable or oppressive.
However, importantly, this decision DOES NOT impinge on a landlord’s right to refuse pets in their rental property. A landlord in a strata building has the right to reasonably refuse a pet regardless of any by-law which permits them, however, the landlord cannot agree to a particular pet if that would be in breach of a by-law (provided the by-law is not a blanket ban).
Strata schemes have to be reasonable (for instance, it may not be reasonable to have a large dog such as a Great Dane in a one-bedroom apartment, but a small dog may be considered reasonable).
Here are answers to three common questions relating to the rules around Landlords and tenant requests to have pets living in a property:
Can the Owners Corporation prohibit an apartment or unit holder from having a pet?
No. However, this does not prohibit an Owners Corporation from having reasonable rules around having a pet (e.g. approval of pets, common areas which they are not allowed in (e.g. pool, BBQ area, etc), they may be required to be under a certain weight/size, must have a vet’s opinion on its suitability to unit living, must be fully vaccinated and registered).
Can a Landlord prohibit a Tenant in a strata property from having a pet?
Yes. A Landlord may reasonably refuse a pet provided they remain compliant with any associated by-laws - however, not if it would discriminate against the Tenant where that Tenant required an assistance animal (refer to section 139(5) of the Act).
Can a Landlord prohibit a Tenant from having a pet in a free-standing property?
Yes, they can. However, if the free-standing property is part of a strata scheme (eg. a villa) then the landlord must remain compliant with any by-laws on the keeping of pets and must not discriminate against the Tenant in relation to an assistance animal.
Where a landlord does agree to a pet in their property then they would have to comply with the by-law conditions of approval and ensure that the Tenant complies with the by-law’s requirements of keeping the pet (e.g. picking up faeces, size of the pet, etc).
For more information on the NSW Court of Appeal decision and by-laws on pets in strata schemes, visit the by-laws in your strata scheme page on NSW Fair Trading’s website.