Pets in Strata – recognising benefits and balance

| January 13, 2012

Pets are a popular part of the lives of most Australians and with the increasing popularity of higher density living, the best way to manage pet ownership in strata accommodation is an important issue for pet owners and strata communities across Australia, according to Susie Willis.

In Sydney, approximately one in four households are living in townhouses, flats, units or apartments – and the number of people living in high-rise housing is increasing at a faster rate than the total population growth.

Even those of us who live in separate houses are usually in a high density environment, with greater proximity to our neighbours than ever before.

Despite the many documented benefits of pet ownership – and the fact that 63% of Australian households choose to own pets – under current NSW strata laws, blanket restrictions can be placed on residents in strata properties that prevent them from owning a pet.

Clearly, all strata residents have rights that need to be recognised.  The benefits that pet owners derive from their pets should not be at the expense of non-pet owning residents.  A balance needs to be achieved whereby individual needs are accommodated.  Residents who choose not to own a pet should be unaffected by those that do own pets, while pet owners who care for their pets in a responsible and considerate manner should not be deprived of the enjoyment pets bring to their lives.

In our view, NSW strata laws should ensure that would-be pet owners are, at least, supported in pursuing the right to keep a pet.

Currently, Model By-law 16 requires that a resident must have permission in writing from their owners corporation to keep an animal, and the owners corporation can’t unreasonably refuse permission.  This by-law provides a mechanism that ensures all pet owners are given a reasonable opportunity to keep a pet by having each case reviewed on its individual merits.  It also enables strata communities to determine that permitting one resident to own a pet does not mean permitting every resident to own a pet.  But it does not prevent an owners corporation from introducing a blanket ban on pets.

The Australian Capital Territory has a similar By-law to Model By-law 16 which also states that consent to keep an animal can be given with or without conditions, plus there is a further requirement that an owners corporation cannot amend its by-laws to preclude any right of any unit owner to keep an animal.  In other words, they must not introduce a blanket “no pets” by-law.  A similar law could be applied in NSW.

It is reasonable to expect that pet owners agree to keep their pet in a way that does not cause nuisance or loss of amenity for surrounding residents.  Strata managers and owners corporations can require pet owners to comply with set conditions regarding common property, noise and waste management.  By clearly stating some simple requirements, an owners corporation can detail their expectation of how pets will be kept and managed once they are approved.  Pet owners that fail to comply would lose the right to keep their pet.

Strata Community Australia and the Petcare Information and Advisory Service recently published resources to help people living in strata to be responsible pet owners, while at the same time encouraging more pet-friendly apartments.  The resources include a suggested pet application form and an agreement to certain standards that the owner can sign.  They are available at and

We believe it is not only possible to successfully integrate pets into medium and high density living, it is essential. There are many examples of NSW strata communities where the incorporation of pets has been hugely successful and beneficial. In a society where single person households and the potential for social isolation are increasing, pets can contribute positively not only to the health and wellbeing of their owners but also to the strata communities as a whole, by helping to bring people together.

Other countries, more familiar with urban consolidation, have for many years managed to successfully integrate pets into highly urbanised environments.  Now is the time for NSW to move to a standard that allows strata communities to agree on a balanced approach to pet ownership.

Susie Willis is the NSW Consultant for the Petcare Information and Advisory Service (PIAS) and has a Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture). Since 1995 Susie has enjoyed her role working with the media, local and state government as well as industry, welfare and community groups to promote socially responsible pet ownership.


Q1. What are the main areas of the existing strata and community scheme laws you would like to see changed?

Q2. Can you see any future issues that need to be addressed in the legislation?

Q3. How could the management of strata and community schemes be improved?

Q4. Are there any changes needed to the way disputes in strata and community schemes are resolved?





  1. littlemissmarg

    January 21, 2013 at 2:44 am

    Pets in Strata

    Hi Susie,

    I agree that individual households should have a choice in these restricted by-law situations. We live in a complex that is a "No Pets at All" by-law yet a fair few households including ours have pets within our townhouse complex. Being governed by such by-laws in your own home makes life a little awkward in a strata plan.

    I understand there needs to be rules in place with the upkeep for owners to make sure pets are looked after.

    I believe a home that is fit for keeping a pet if an owner wishes to, should be their right.

    Many households are downgrading to units/townhouses as with the cost of living increases households cannot purchase/rent properties with large backyards. So to then have a battle of not being able to keep your pet that you have taken responsibility of since they were pups is just ridiculous.

    Being constantly warned by Strata/Committees to those owners that have pets: threatening that they will loose the privlege for a dog that occasionally barks is really unfair.

    By-laws that are completely restricted isn’t fair to anyone therefore I truly believe this is discrimination.

    The amount of pets that are given up on, dumped or pounded each year is really sad, and to then have by-laws where people are responsible for their pets that are constantly threatened in keeping them in their own home when they haven’t hurt anyone is just WRONG!.

    Just wanted to mention my thoughts on this topic.  I really hope changes can be made for pet owners in strata living in a positive way.