I want to purchase a strata apartment: can I have a pet?

The answer depends on the registered by-laws for the building, the type and number of pets you want to have and the attitude of the owners corporation to pets generally and your pet in particular.

If the apartment is company title or part of a larger development, such as a community scheme or a building with a strata management statement, there are other considerations.

What by-laws apply to the building?

For information on the by-laws which apply to the building in which you propose to purchase [see about pet by-laws].

How do I get a copy of the by-laws?

Copies of all by-laws may not be attached to the sale contract.

If the strata plan for the building registered prior to 1 July 1997, only copies of amended by-law or new by-laws approved by the owners corporation in general meeting after that date and registered will be attached to the contract.  The remainder of the by-laws are contained in Schedule 1 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 (NSW) [see schedule 1 pet by-laws for by-law 16 relating to pets].

If the strata plan registered on or after 1 July 1997, only copies of any developer by-laws and amended and new by-laws approved by the owners corporation in general meeting after registration of the strata plan and registered will be attached to the contract.  If the model by-laws apply then [see pet model by-laws for the pet model by-laws].

What should I be checking about pets?

You should check the building by-laws for the pet position.  This can be achieved by:

  • reading the by-laws
  • checking the books and records of the owners corporation as to what approvals have been given and withheld in the past
  • asking the agent and any neighbours on the pet position

Unfortunately there is no general register you can search [but see interested parties/pet directory for information on some buildings].

If there is an absolute prohibition on pets in one building and you have a pet or you intend to have a pet then you should look for an apartment in a different, pet friendly building.

If the by-laws permit pets you should check whether approval is first required (for example, if the Schedule 1 by-laws apply or if options A or B of the model by-laws apply then you need approval of the owners corporation before you can have a pet).

How do I get approval?

If the building by-laws require approval to pets, then you must apply for that approval and obtain it before bringing the pet into the building.

The by-laws may prescribe to whom you apply for approval and what information you must provide.

If not, then you should make application to the secretary of the owners corporation: and if in doubt to whom to send the letter, then send it to the strata managing agent.

You should give as much information as you can.  This includes:

  • describing your pet: name, type, size, weight, age, gender, appearance and disposition
  • providing references if you have any
  • information if your pet has been to obedience school

It is a good idea to check what other pets are already in the building and what approvals have previously been granted and withheld.

When do I need approval?

You must have approval before you bring your pet into the building.

You should make any contract to purchase conditional on the approval being obtained: approval is not automatic.

It may be difficult to make your contract conditional if you are purchasing at auction.  You should approach the selling agent to ascertain whether the seller would make an application to the owners corporation on your behalf prior to the auction date.