The Queensland Office of Body Corporate and Community Management has issued new guidelines for one of the big ‘Pet Peeves’ in community title schemes, pets in body corporate.
Owners and occupiers often have a range of concerns about having animals in a community titles scheme. The main issue for a body corporate is the likelihood of a negative impact on common property, or on any person living at or visiting the scheme.
The genuine concerns of most owners can be eased by setting reasonable conditions, which may be more appropriate than outright refusal.
If you want to keep an animal on your lot, you must check your scheme’s by-laws to find out whether you can keep an animal or have an animal visit.
The by-laws will also tell you if you need to ask permission from your body corporate to keep an animal. Most of the time an owner or occupier will need to ask for permission.
Having an animal in a community titles scheme may be regulated by the scheme’s by-laws, which you can normally find in the scheme’s community management statement (CMS).
A by-law’s inclusion in your scheme’s CMS does not make it a valid by-law. There are some limitations on by-laws, as per Section 180 of the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (the BCCM Act). For example, a by-law must not be oppressive or unreasonable toward the interests of all owners and occupiers and the use of the common property.
NO BY-LAW ABOUT PETS IN BODY CORPORATE
If there is no specific by-law that regulates animals at the scheme, you do not need to ask for permission to keep an animal within your lot. However, you must still consider the other body corporate by-laws, such as noise.
You should consider if the animal is suitable for living in your lot, as well as your scheme, and whether your animal is likely to cause a nuisance to other occupiers in your scheme.
The legislation prohibits occupiers from using or permitting the use of their lot in a way that causes a nuisance or interferes unreasonably with the use or enjoyment of another lot or common property.
The committee may withdraw approval for an animal if there is evidence the animal is causing a nuisance to other owners or occupiers of the scheme.
Adjudicators have ordered the removal of animals where the person keeping the animal has not controlled their animal’s behaviour, and that behaviour was found to be causing a nuisance.
PERMISSIVE ANIMAL BY-LAWS
A common by-law about animals is one that allows animals if you get approval first. Usually the committee can decide.
This type of by-law is considered a ‘permissive by-law’ as it allows the keeping of animals with prior approval.
If you want to have an animal in a body corporate with this type of by-law you should ask for permission by writing to the committee. They cannot unreasonably refuse a request by a person asking for an animal.
You can request approval if you are:
- an owner
- an occupier
- a prospective purchaser
- a prospective occupier.
If the body corporate says no to your request, you may consider disputing the decision through the Office of the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management (the BCCM office) if you think the decision was unreasonable.
CONDITIONS OF KEEPING PETS IN BODY CORPORATE
Sometimes animal by-laws include conditions that people living in the body corporate must comply with when they bring an animal into the scheme.
If conditions are not written in the by-law, the committee can impose conditions at their discretion when giving approval to keep an animal in a lot.
Conditions are used to minimise any impact from the animal on other occupiers and common property. Conditions should reflect the circumstances of each individual case.
A committee must act reasonably when setting conditions for pets in body corporate.
If you do not comply with the conditions imposed by the committee or written in the by-laws, the committee may withdraw approval for your animal and ask you to remove the animal from the property.
PROHIBITIVE ANIMAL BY-LAWS
Some bodies corporate have by-laws that do not allow pets in body corporate. These are called prohibitive by-laws.
Some will prohibit all animals without exception. Others will prohibit all animals of a particular type, such as cats, dogs, or dogs over 10kg.
The committee cannot approve an animal that the by-laws prohibit.
If you, as an owner, want to keep an animal in a scheme with a prohibitive animal by-law, you could propose a motion to change the by-law.
If your attempt to change the by-law is not successful, you may consider disputing that decision and/or the validity of the by-law through the Office of the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management (the BCCM office).
BEFORE MOVING INTO A BODY CORPORATE
When looking at buying a property in a community titles scheme, you may want to ask the body corporate’s permission to keep an animal on the lot you wish to purchase.
We do not have jurisdiction to resolve disputes between purchasers and bodies corporate. However, the owner selling their lot could attempt to resolve the matter, and then lodge a dispute application with us if they are unsuccessful.
They could name the purchaser as an ‘interested party’ for the dispute.
Read an order that dealt with a purchaser’s request for an animal.
Tenants may also need to ask the body corporate’s permission to keep an animal on their lot, as long as the by-laws and their tenancy agreement allow it.
Further information on ‘Disputes about animals in a body corporate’
© The State of Queensland 2017