Pet Dogs By-law in a Strata Scheme
Written on the 23 July 2021
There has been a clear change towards the strata pet laws in NSW. The NSW Court of Appeal decision restricts animals; and therefore, the strata laws limit prohibited by-laws and unreasonable refusal of pet applications. In March 2021, the NCAT decided to uphold a no dogs by-law, refusing strata owners' applications to keep their dogs in the apartment.
McGregor's Case Highlights
The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) has decided a case between Scott McGregor and Strata Plan 74896. On 1 March 2021, McGregor lost his bid to keep his dog, 'Jimmy', in his apartment after the tribunal ruled that the no-dogs by-law is acceptable. The following are some of McGregor's case key facts:
Mr. McGregor and Ms. Eichner lived at the Altro strata apartment building in Camperdown. They have submitted a dog approval application for 'Jimmy', their 12-year-old miniature fox terrier, who was coming to Altro with Mr. McGregor from time to time.
It is essential to keep in mind that Altro is located in the City Quarter Complex -- a community title scheme and comprises apartments and townhouses. The City Quarter Complex has a by-law permitting only some animals to be in the apartment complex. That includes one cat, small bird, fish, and a guide or hearing dog. Besides, they allow one small dog in the townhouses. However, they do not let dogs to be in the apartments.
Many strata owners and residents were in favor of keeping Jimmy at Altro. Regardless, NCAT still refused to make orders allowing Jimmy to stay at Altro and refused to invalidate the pet by-law at the City Quarter Complex. Below are some of the critical points that NCAT said:
Assessing the case revolved around the ruling of Cooper's Case. Therefore, the circumstances of the strata owner and dog were not relevant.
Under section 157 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015, they did not have any power to make an order since there was no discretion about keeping a dog in the current by-law.
Section 150 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 pointed out that Mr. McGregor could not challenge the relevant by-law. To conclude, the NCAT claimed that they have no power to rule the decision.
The decision may not be favorable, but Mr. McGregor and Ms. Eichner intended to keep Jimmy regardless. They claimed: "Jimmy will be back in our apartment with us tomorrow night when we return to Sydney. Let the games begin!"
This case has highlighted how a simple strata dispute can turn out to be a complex legal issue. Unfortunately, in this case, another strata pet and its family have to suffer from the consequences.