This Q&A from a Lot Owner about strata and pets WA has been answered by our WA Strata helper – Strata Martyr.
Question: A condition of the sale of my apartment was the buyer be allowed to keep 2 cats. The Council of Management have denied this and now the sale will not go through.
I’m trying to sell my strata apartment and a condition of sale was the buyer be allowed to bring her 2 ten-year-old cats.
There are no special by-laws in place – aside from the standard.
The Council of Management have denied this and now the sale will not go through.
I know that another tenant has a cat but from the minutes of the meeting that was held this person is also going to be asked to remove her pet.
I am financially struggling as now I have no tenant and my sale has fallen through.
I asked to attend the meeting and discuss the situation face to face but couldn’t get any response. The strata manager has forwarded my emails but no one will speak directly with me.
Do I have any recourse? Keen to hear of any options.
I see other states are allowing pets with conditions of approval. Why can’t WA keep up?
Answer: If all pets are to be banned from the complex, I personally would want a by-law indicating this.
There is a distinct gap between user-friendly vs.. friendly, there is a huge gap between user-friendly strata vs.. self-interest.
It is human nature to be pre-disposed to self-interest, the only people who can be elected to the Council of Management are owners. Whatever decisions they make on behalf of all owners will also affect them.
This is why sometimes it is hard to raise the necessary funds to properly manage complexes as it does not have the support of the Council of Management.
Strata and Pets WA
Pets are a grey area in Strata and if you have a standard set of by-laws only, there is provision for notice to be given to an owner for the removal of a pet. The wording definitely infers this authority but gives no details under what conditions this would occur.
The by-laws are open to interpretation and owners do not always agree. If an impasse is reached, one party would need to make a case to be heard at the State Administrative Tribunal. This is usually the aggrieved party.
Some people like cats, some people like dogs and some people dislike both. Some people don’t like other people. Strata is meant to be about community, harmonious coexistence, where like-minded people, compromise on minor issues and adjust the model of governance and compliance to best suit the needs of owners.
This ideal would have been better served with additional by-laws (a management statement is issued with the new complex.) This could have clearly set out terms and conditions of pet ownership at the complex or alternatively stated no pets allowed.
New complexes seldom say no pets, in their by-laws rather they indicate size and number of pets (usually one per lot) and list a number of dangerous dog breeds not permissible.
This allows for the new owner to purchase into a complex where some similarity with other owners is achieved. There may be a reduction in the value of apartments/units at a complex if a Pet Ban was in force.
I personally do not think the By-law in question is enough and some reason or ruling by owners to justify this action would be doing due diligence before affecting an owner in the viability of her investment.
The reason we have by-laws is to control the situation for the benefit of owners. The Strata Titles Act. 1985 also has the procedures for changing by-laws for owners as not all complexes are the same and by-laws need to be repealed, amended or added to. The By-law I assume you are referring to is a Schedule 2 By-law:
ADDITIONAL DUTIES OF PROPRIETORS, OCCUPIERS, ETC.
12. A Proprietor, occupier or other resident shall not –
(a) use the lot that he owns, occupies or resides in for any purpose that may be illegal or injurious to the reputation of the building;
(b) make undue noise in or about any lot or common property; or
(c) keep any animals on the lot that he owns, occupies or resides in or the common property after notice in that behalf given to him by the council.
The section under scrutiny is (c). My interpretation/opinion is the word “animals” – this being the plural. I take to mean more that one pet for the owner. The second phrase that gets my attention is “after notice”. This seems to be the point at which it is decided that the “animals” shall be removed from the complex.
It does not say an owner cannot have pets but indicates that if notice is given by the Council of Management the owner will comply. I believe that the intent of this by-law was to empower the Council of Management to have a pet removed from the complex if it was a problem.
If all pets are to be banned from the complex, I personally would want a by-law indicating this and the above (c) repealed. Further, those owners already with pets would not agree to a by-law that did not allow them to maintain their pet till they passed away at which time they would not replace their pet at that complex.
I am sure there is more history in your circumstance, this opinion is how I would deal with matters in a fair an equitable way. Seek legal advice you may have a claim against the strata company.
“Exception to the rule”, is a trait of the Strata Titles Act. 1985 a person/resident/owner who requires the assistance of a “seeing eye dog” regardless of whether there is a by-law stating “no pets” by law cannot be made to remove the pet and cannot be discriminated against in purchasing into the complex.
Note: Legalities are sorted by Lawyers consequently this response to a questioned posed is my general opinion only and suitable specialists in these areas should be sort for clarification on all points.
This post appears in Strata News #143
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