Pets and sectional title scheme rules

Listeners often call in to ask for help with resolving issues around pets at sectional title schemes.

A common question is, can I do anything if the body corporate rules include a complete ban on keeping animals?

On Weekend Breakfast, Africa Melane gets some clarity from Ané de Klerk, specialist community scheme attorney at sectional title specialists, Paddocks.

Read: Sectional title property owner? There’s an Ombud to help you resolve disputes

She says the first thing a pet owner should establish is whether a scheme has a blanket no-pet rule, or whether this is at the discretion of the trustees - the default position since 2016.

Do you have a rule that says that you can keep the pet with the trustees' consent?

Ané de Klerk, Specialist community scheme attorney - Paddocks

The key is whether your request is "at all reasonable".

The trustees need to look at the nature of the animal, for example whether it is big, small or aggressive.

The circumstances of the scheme also play a role - asking to keep a pit bull on the tenth floor of an apartment block in the city centre for instance, would leave the applicant very little wiggle room.

De Klerk points out that since 2016, you can approach the Community Schemes Ombud Service (CSOS) about getting a blanket no-pet rule changed.

In terms of Section 39 of that CSOS act act, you are allowed to try and obtain an order from CSOS that says that that provision is unreasonable and requiring the scheme to record a new one.

Ané De Klerk, Specialist community scheme attorney - Paddocks

You can still challenge it, so don't just accept the rule as it is.

Ané De Klerk, Specialist community scheme attorney - Paddocks

On the flipside, what recourse does a resident have when another occupant's pet is making their lives unpleasant?

We need to prove that another occupier's pet is causing a nuisance, a hazard or unduly interfering with our peaceful use and enjoyment of our property.

Ané De Klerk Specialist community scheme attorney

De Klerk says before approaching CSOS, it's important to try all avenues to resolve the problem yourself first.

This includes approaching a neighbour directly to suggest possible solutions, for example taking a nuisance dog for walks or to doggy daycare.

Listen to the complete conversation below:


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