Body Corporate FAQs
Can a body corporate ban pets in strata?
Please note that this information was correct prior to October 2023. The Queensland Government has proposed reforms to strata legislation that, when passed, will affect these rules. Read more about the proposed changes here, and sign up to our mailing list for the most up-to-date information as these laws are released.
The Short Answer
No, a body corporate in Queensland cannot enforce a complete ban on pets in residential strata buildings. By-laws that outright prohibit pets from strata buildings have routinely been found to be void when a pet owner has appealed to the Office of the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management (BCCM).
Control Over Pets in Strata Properties
But that does not mean that a body corporate is powerless to have some control over the behaviour of pets that are allowed in strata properties.
A properly worded pet by-law that is drafted by legal experts aware of the various precedents can provide committees with a degree of say over the pets allowed in a building.
If there is no pet by-law at a scheme, then no permission is required to keep an animal on a lot. Unless the occupation of the lot by an animal is referred to by the by-laws, then the committee cannot impose conditions relating to that occupation.
Enforceability of a Complete Ban on Pets
In a recent decision, an adjudicator had to consider whether a by-law imposing a complete ban on pets was enforceable. The background to the case was that:
- For a number of years, the scheme had a by-law which provided that an occupier or invitee must not, without written approval from the body corporate, bring or keep an animal onto a lot or common property.
- When the applicant first moved into the scheme, he did not seek committee approval for his small dog.
- The applicant subsequently sought approval, but it was refused due to a no-pets policy. This policy was later voted in as a by-law.
- The applicant argued against the committee‘s refusal to allow him to keep a pet and the new by-law on the grounds that the policy and by-law were too restrictive, unjust and/or simply unenforceable.
In the decision, the adjudicator upheld some earlier decisions and found that:
- a ‘no pets’ by-law was not objectively reasonable in any circumstances; and
- the by-law was oppressive by completely restricting an owner from having a pet, even one as simple as a goldfish.
Consideration and Reasonableness
What can be learnt from these recent decisions is that:
- a by-law imposing a complete ban on pets will be void; and
- a committee is obliged to consider the circumstances of each case and be reasonable in the decision it makes.
Committees must take stock of these decisions and be more flexible in how they deal with pet approvals. The focus for by-laws of this type has changed from trying to mandate what type of pets will and won’t be approved, to putting the onus on lot owners to provide their committee with enough information to make a reasonable decision.
Equally, there have been cases where specific animals have not been approved in a scheme after other owners provided evidence that they suffered from severe allergies or from phobias to dogs.
Re-evaluating Pet By-laws
Bodies corporate should re-evaluate their by-laws concerning pets and seek advice on whether the by-laws are valid. Identifying problematic by-laws early can save a committee from getting into an emotional and difficult dispute with their neighbour over whether a pet is appropriate for the scheme.
Hynes Webinars related to Pets in Strata
Refusing and removing a pet: https://blog.hyneslegal.com.au/webinars/lawfully-refusing-and-removing-a-pet
Pets in strata: https://blog.hyneslegal.com.au/webinars/pets-in-strata
The saga of Joe the galah: https://blog.hyneslegal.com.au/news/the-saga-of-joe-the-unwanted-galah