'She's my best friend': Illawarra pet owner praises new strata laws in NSW

Emma Jones with her English Staffy, Bindi. Picture: Anna Warr
Emma Jones with her English Staffy, Bindi. Picture: Anna Warr

Life-long dog owner Emma Jones says pets are more important than ever during the current lockdowns.

"My dog Bindi is 11 years old, my best friend and important for my mental health," Mrs Jones said.

"I would not give her up."

Mrs Jones said in the past she'd had multiple private rental property applications knocked back due to blanket rules not allowing pets.

From this week, the NSW Government's new laws will to put an end to blanket bans on animals in strata.

The new legislation will prevent strata and owners corporations banning animals unless they "unreasonably interfere" with other apartment owners' use and enjoyment.

The changes follow a review of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015.

Mrs Jones, 45, works as a dog groomer in NSW's Illawarra.

"It's wrong that so many rentals don't allow dogs and other pets," she said.

"She doesn't do any damage to the property and if dogs do, that is what the bond is for.

"I couldn't get a place when I had to move out of my existing rental, so am having to live with my in-laws and now going to buy a home so I no longer have the worry of not getting a rental or being evicted because they find out I have a pet."

As International Dog Day was celebrated on Thursday, Mrs Jones backed new laws regarding pets in strata title buildings.

Picture: Anna Warr

Picture: Anna Warr

"A lot has changed since the Act commenced in 2015, including a huge shift to apartment living as more and more people in NSW are choosing to buy and rent in higher density areas," Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said.

"Following extensive feedback from the community we have implemented fair and sensible regulations that prevent schemes from introducing blanket bans on keeping pets in apartments, while ensuring owners corporations can refuse pets where they unreasonably impact other residents."

The new regulations will prescribe a limited list of specific grounds where an owners corporation can refuse a lot owner from keeping an animal in a strata scheme or take steps to remove an existing animal from the scheme.

These circumstances include repeated damage of the common property, menacing behavior, persistent noise and odour.

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Owners corporations will also be able to set reasonable conditions through their own by-laws on how pets are kept in their scheme. For example, whether they have to be supervised on common property or enter and exit through a dedicated entrance or lift.

However, Sharon Levy, partner at Sydney-based law firm Bartier Perry said even if the by-laws of a strata building allows for pets, the terms of a lease between the landlord and tenant can still prohibit the keeping of a pet if the landlord desires.

Meanwhile, the peak body for the strata property sector in NSW believes a common sense approach by the NSW Government will curtail costly litigation and resident infighting over the keeping of pets in apartments, units and townhouses.

Strata Community Association (NSW) president Chris Duggan said the new regulations represented "a very sensible approach to a previously challenging issue".

"The keeping of pets in strata schemes is a very personal and emotive issue and it's great to see a framework that allows pets but provides protection for those unreasonably impacted by them," Mr Duggan said.

"The important role that pets play in terms of companionship has only increased during the current pandemic."

This story 'My best friend': pet owner praises new strata laws first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.