02 March 2021

PRESS RELEASE: Court win. Law changed. But pet owners still unfairly targeted.

Articles resulting from this press release include: ‘Let the games begin’: All out war between pet owners and strata bosses by Michael Koziol (Sydney Morning Herald 14 March 2021), Sydney resident’s bullying claims after no-pets strata court battle by Georgia Clark (Daily Telegraph 11 March 2021), Sydney pet house owners struggle strata bosses over modifications to legislation (Globalnews24 13 March 2021)

A court ruling and subsequent law change that sought to stop owners corporations from banning animals from apartments is still being flouted, according to law firm Bartier Perry.

Partner Sharon Levy said some owners corporations and strata managers were going to often extreme lengths to ban animals ranging from complex application processes to bullying.

Ms Levy represented Jo Cooper in a legal battle to be allowed to have her dog Angus live in her central Sydney apartment in the hope that no-one else would have to go to this extreme. The New South Wales Court of Appeal unanimously ruled late last year that an owners corporation could not enforce a blanket ban on animals.

Following the Cooper decision, the State Government in February passed legislation stating that in NSW, owners corporations will not be able to unreasonably deny permission for residents to have animals.

Ms Levy said despite these changes both herself and Mrs Cooper had received a large number of complaints from animal owners that the law was being ignored or flouted.

“We have seen some owners corporations repealing the blanket ban on animals only to replace it with a draconian animal application regime that is almost as oppressive as the blanket ban itself,” said Ms Levy.

“We have also been told of instances of bullying as a result of owners legally bringing their pet onto the strata scheme.

And now with this new law, we expect some owners corporations will still try to skirt around the issue by taking a limited view of what it means to ‘unreasonably prohibit the keeping of an animal on a lot’. We expect the State Government will clarify this issue in coming months.

Making emotive decisions as opposed to adhering to the Court of Appeal ruling and now the impending law change puts owners corporations at the risk of costly legal challenges. It’s important to understand the implications of the decision and not simply seek to thumb your nose at it,” said Ms Levy.

Mrs Cooper said she had been inundated with calls and messages from distraught pet owners.

“What was a clear win for pet owners in apartments is being ignored, flouted and in some cases perversely being used to punish them.

There are some schemes that are charging owners a non-refundable fee to have a pet in their own home, this is truly an abuse of power and obstruction of law.

The judgement and legislation has made it clear that strata owners have property rights entitling us to use our homes the way we feel fit as long as we are not negatively impacting others,” she said.

Bartier Perry’s full analysis of the case, legislative changes and implications can be viewed here - Pets in Strata – the fallout from the Cooper Case and the resulting legislative amendment