This article is about concerning the right to own a companion animal in a no pet building. What is a companion dog? Do companion animals always have to be a dog?
Table of Contents:
- QUESTION: With the approval for an assistance animal in strata, can an assistant animal also be a cat, not just a dog?
- QUESTION: There are a number of very vocal apartment owners in my building who are against animals of any type, including a companion animal like a dog.
Question: With the approval for an assistance animal in strata, can an assistant animal also be a cat, not just a dog?
Answer: Yes it can
Yes, it can. With post-traumatic stress disorder, animals are quite helpful. I would imagine, just the action of petting a cat.
You would need a doctor’s report on that and the animal and so forth. Assistance animals are quite a broad category and there’s a lot to it. I would imagine that a cat, accompanied by a doctor’s certificate, would be fine.
This post appears in Strata News #391.
Question: There are a number of very vocal apartment owners in my building who are against animals of any type, including a companion animal like a dog.
I am hoping you may be able to give me some advice regarding the Bylaw that has been registered at my newly built apartment complex concerning pets.
The development was initially sold off the plan from 2014 and completed earlier this year. The sales agents were told it was pet-friendly but when we went to sign the contract, the developer had made an error and put in an old No Pets Bylaw. Even though only a very small number of apartments had been sold at that time, he advised that it was too hard to change and to wait until the development was completed and then the owners could change the bylaws.
Unfortunately, there are a number of very vocal apartment owners who are against having animals of any type in the building, including a companion animal like a companion dog.
A number of owners moved in with their animals anyway .. in breach of the bylaw.
I have a dog but decided to wait until we changed the bylaw to move in. However, 6 months down the track and my attempts have not been successful.
A couple of owners on the committee think it is their duty to enforce the bylaws by intimidating owners that have brought their dog or cat to live with them. It has become a very divided and acrimonious community.
Only 1 of the 9 committee members wants pets so they have voted to send out notices reminding everyone to abide by the bylaws.
As I can’t move in with my dog, I tried to sell the apartment. I have had multiple buyers pull out when they found out it wasn’t pet-friendly. So now I can’t move in and I can’t sell it.
We have unwell residents that have been warned about their cats. One unwell resident is accosted by the strata committee member every time they are out with their dog.
I myself have chronic health issues that can leave me housebound for weeks. My dog is my companion animal.
The stress of fighting for my companion animal is affecting me physically, emotionally and financially.
Answer: If you can demonstrate your dog meets the requirements of a companion animal for the specific outlined range of disabilities, the Owners Corporation cannot prohibit the keeping of your animal.
Section 139 of the new legislation clearly states that no by-law may prevent the keeping of an “assistance” animal.
- By-law cannot prevent keeping of assistance animal A by-law has no force or effect to the extent to which it purports to prohibit or restrict the keeping on a lot of an assistance animal (as referred to in section 9 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 of the Commonwealth) used by an owner or occupier of the lot as an assistance animal or the use of an assistance animal for that purpose by a person on a lot or common property.
Note that the alleged assistance animal must comply with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act.
What is an assitance animal such as a companion dog?
Section 9 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 provides this definition of an assistance animal such as a companion dog:
- For the purposes of this Act, an assistance animal is a dog or other animal:
- accredited under a law of a State or Territory that provides for the accreditation of animals trained to assist a persons with a disability to alleviate the effect of the disability; or
- accredited by an animal training organisation prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this paragraph; or
- to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effect of the disability; and
- to meet standards of hygiene and behaviour that are appropriate for an animal in a public place.
If you can demonstrate your dog meets those requirements and you qualify for the specific outlined range of disabilities, the Owners Corporation cannot prohibit the keeping of your animal.
Provided you and your animal qualify, you may take your complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
This post appears in Strata News #203.
This article is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.
Have a question about about companion dogs or something to add to the article? Leave a comment below.
- NSW: Strata Living and Pet By-Laws – Where Do We Stand Now?
- SCA: Assistance Animals and the new NSW legislation
Looking for strata information concerning your state? For state-specific strata information, take a look here.