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Pets in Rentals

The South Australian government has recently announced that it will consult on a bill that will change residential tenancy laws to prevent renters from having a request to keep a pet unreasonably refused.

A change along these lines has been anticipated for some time now following changes made in Victoria, Queensland, Northern Territory and the ACT.

The proposed change to the residential tenancies legislation would see the tenant required to follow any reasonable conditions set by the landlord which may include keeping the pet outside if possible and professional cleaning of carpets at the end of the lease.

It remains to be seen how such a change would work with Strata and Community Titled properties.

Community Corporations are governed via their by-laws which are different for each property and we must consider that there are two types of Community, where the Community Titles Act 1996 has been used to divide the parcel of land such as a housing estate with a common property driveway and also the strata scheme (apartment building).

In the land division style of Community, many corporations have taken a relaxed nature toward the housing of pets which is understandable given that many such properties are courtyard homes with rear yards. A complicating factor for Community Titles is that there is no prescribed block size, and while we have some houses sitting on small lots, we also assist some properties of this type that are on acreage where restrictions on household pets would have no impact on neighbours.

Apartment buildings understandably have differing views with much of the discussion concerning pets being around disruption or noise impact on fellow residents. Given the vast difference between differing Community Titles it is clear that a one-size fits all approach is not appropriate.

Within Strata Titles, Schedule 3 of the Strata Titles Act 1988 provides the default Articles for Strata Corporations which are in force for all corporations who have not taken the steps to alter their articles.

Subject to the Strata Titles Act 1988, a person bound by these articles must not, without the strata corporation's consent, keep any animal in, or in the vicinity of, a unit.

In my two decades working with Strata and Community Titles I have not had a corporation alter their articles for pets, although many corporations have allowed pets when asked as the article simply requires consent which a corporation may grant through a meeting.

Given that the Articles (and many Community by-laws) require the corporation to grant consent it will be interesting to see if the Government will propose amendments to both pieces of legislation.

We will work with Strata Community Association on advocacy for our clients as we look for clarity to prevent conflicts in legislation that impact upon the almost 1 in 10 South Australians living in Strata or Community Titled properties.

Like many homes, mine is happier thanks to the smallest members of the family


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