Strata schemes can no longer ban pets
- Owners in a strata scheme are the holders of a freehold estate. This means that each lot owner also holds a bundle of property rights relating to their lot.
- Keeping a pet within a lot is a property right that cannot be constrained by a by-law passed by an owners corporation, even if the by-law has been passed unanimously.
- A blanket ban on pets (through a by-law) prevents a lot owner from exercising their own property rights and brings no material benefit to other lot owners.
- A by-law that prohibits owners from keeping a pet within their own lot is oppressive and invalid.
What this means
It is unlawful for owners corporations to put a blanket ban on pets.
More than 1 million Sydney-siders lived in strata in 2011, and it is estimated that within 20 years half of the NSW population will live or work in a strata or community scheme (Associate Professor C. Sherry, Strata Title Property Rights – Private Governance of Multi-owned Properties [Routledge, 2017] pp. 131,142 & p 10).
“A liberal democracy is not a majoritarian dictatorship; it operates under legal constraints designed to protect minorities from oppression.”
– Justice of Appeal John Basten, who ruled on the decision
“The decision upholds Judge Basten’s ideal about preventing oppression and is a positive step towards such protection,” shares MLC strata solicitor Jake Edwards.
“It provides certainty to those in our community who, in a more and more dislocated world, now have a clear understanding of their right to enjoy the care, love, and affection that a pet can bring. It will undoubtedly help to build positive mental health outcomes, and help fight the 21st-century malaise of social isolation.”