Many Company Title Buildings have a complete prohibition on pets which can either be found in the House Rules or Articles of Association of the Company. There has been a recent change in community standards in respect of pets. Accordingly, there has been a genuine need to rethink pet policies in the formal documents of the Company.
What does the law say about pets?
The starting point in reformulating a pet policy, is to consider the current status of the law. Currently, there is very little case law for pet policies in Company Title Buildings. However, the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal has established a set of principles in respect of pet policies in Strata Title Buildings. Those cases are very useful in guiding the Company in reformulating its pet policy.
In Yardy v Owners Corporation SP 57237  NSWCATCD (‘Yardy’), the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal placed importance on ensuring that the by-laws in a strata scheme reflects current community standards. It was held that that a complete prohibition on the keeping of pets when judged against community standards is ‘contrary to lot owners’ basic habitation rights, and their use and enjoyment of their respective lots’. Amongst other factors, the Tribunal found that the complete prohibition of pets in a strata schemes building was ‘unconscionable’, ‘harsh’ and ‘oppressive’. This approach indicates, that a complete prohibition on the keep of pets in a Company Title Building can be perceived as oppressive, especially in circumstances where there are a group of shareholders that are in favour of keeping of pets in the building.
Companion Animals Act 1988 (NSW)
The Companion Animals Act 1988 (NSW) is mandatory on all corporations, including Company Title Buildings. That legislation prevents a Company from imposing restrictions on assistance animals such as guide dogs.
Points to consider
If you are thinking about changing the current policy on pets, we would recommend that the following points are considered:
- The views of all the Shareholders in the building;
- The status of cases that have considered the purpose of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (NSW);
- The mandatory requirements imposed on the Company by the Companion Animals Act 1988.
We will work collaboratively with the Directors and Members of the Company to formulate a balanced pet policy that considers the needs of all stakeholders in the Company.