New Pet By-Laws in New South Wales

Animal lovers are rejoicing after a recent decision passed down by the NSW Government has put an end to blanket bans on pets in strata title properties in New South Wales.

Strata Community Association (NSW), which was consulted by the NSW Government on the issue, has commended the NSW Government on the new regulations.

In a recent media statement, SCA (NSW) President, Chris Duggan, said: “Research shows that Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world. The important role that pets play in terms of companionship has only increased during the current pandemic.

“Many strata communities in Sydney and wider New South Wales have been under lockdown conditions, some for extensive periods, and pets provide a remedy to the social isolation that some may experience.”

Commencing on 25 August 2021, two amendments to the Strata Schemes Management Act (2015) came into effect which now govern the keeping of animals in strata schemes.

Section 137B stipulates that keeping an animal in a strata scheme cannot be prohibited unless the animal “unreasonably interferes with another occupant’s enjoyment of their lot or the common property”.

Additionally, the Strata Schemes Amendment (Pets) Regulation outlines the specific circumstances which may be considered “unreasonable interference” to assist owners, occupiers, and owners’ corporations to navigate the new laws.

Under the Strata Schemes Amendment (Pets) Regulation, an animal may be deemed to cause “unreasonable interference” if:

  • The animal makes a noise which interferes with the peace, comfort, and convenience of another occupant.
  • The animal repeatedly runs at or chases another occupant, visitor, or another animal.
  • The animal repeatedly causes damage to the common property or to another lot.
  • The animal endangers the health of another occupant through infection or infestation.
  • The animal causes a persistent offensive odour that penetrates the common property or another lot.
  • For dogs and cates, the owner of the animal fails to comply with orders under the Companion Animals Act 1998.

The Strata Schemes Amendment (Pets) Regulation also incorporates the provisions of the Companion Animals Act 1998 regarding a “restricted” dog and a “menacing or dangerous” dog. These dogs may be banned from strata schemes by decision of the owners’ corporation.

By-Laws: What You Need to Know

It is important that owners, occupiers, and owners’ corporations understand their rights and responsibilities in relation to the enforcement of by-laws on the keeping of animals in strata schemes.

The recent changes to the Strata Schemes Management Act (2015) mean that any by-law which sets a blanket ban on pets in a strata scheme in New South Wales is now invalid.

Such by-laws may be challenged by seeking an amendment with the owners’ corporation in your strata scheme.

The decision to amend the by-law should be considered at the next general meeting of the owners’ corporation or by calling an extraordinary general meeting to discuss the matter.

In the event a blanket ban remains in place, you can lodge an application for mediation with NSW Fair Trading. If the matter remains unresolved, you can proceed to lodging an application at NCAT.

For more information on by-laws, visit NSW Fair Trading here.