Body Corporates Behaving Badly – Pet Bans0
For pet enthusiasts and animal lovers in general, our little furry, scaly or feathery friends are the epitome of civilised behaviour.
For others, these creatures are the source of unpleasant noise, smells, allergy aggravation and even health risks. And of course, both points of view are correct.
For detached dwellings, pet ownership is controlled by local Council laws. When it comes to Body Corporate multi-unit complexes (BC’s) however, the issue is more commonly regulated by the individual by-laws specific to that building. In most BC’s the by-laws will say that Lot Owners may keep one pet (typically restricted to a cat, dog or bird) provided they first obtain consent from the BC via majority vote at a general meeting.
But what happens if the by-laws contain an outright prohibition on pets, or pets are permitted but the BC has voted “no” and/or the inverse situation where the BC allowed a pet that has now become a pest?
In each of these scenarios the affected lot owner(s) have rights under the BC dispute resolution process which, in brief, has three steps. First mediation next adjudication and finally litigation. If the dispute reaches the final step it will be determined by a “member” in the Qld Civil and Administration Tribunal (QCAT) which effectively functions like a low level Court. QCAT decisions are published on-line and give good guidance as to which way a Court would jump on pet ownership.
If the pet-ban is in the BC by-laws, QCAT has consistently concluded that such bans are illegal and cannot be enforced.
If the pet-ban has come from a BC majority vote at a general meeting, then, provided the idiosyncratic behaviours of the relevant species would not be considered too boisterous, QCAT would normally be expected to overturn the BC decision and allow the pet to stay.
Where the pet is already living in the BC complex (with or without prior BC approval) but is considered by some/one lot owner(s) to be a nuisance then where the pet is objectively assessed to be too large, loud or delinquent for the available community living space or it is located too close to residents who have genuine animal specific allergies or phobias, QCAT will usually put the human Lot Owners first and order that the pet must go.
If any readers of this article have questions relating to their personal BC situation then we at Zande Law are presently offering a free initial consultation service. Just give us a call and we would be happy to book you in for an appointment. Michael Zande is the principal at Zande Law Solicitors and has over 25 years’ experience. To contact Michael for advice, phone 3385 0999, Suite 7, Norwinn Centre, 15 Discovery Drive, North Lakes.
The information in this article is merely a guide and is not a full explanation of the law. This firm cannot take responsibility for any action readers take based on this information. When making decisions that could affect your legal rights, please contact us for professional advice.