Hynes Legal: New Laws Open The Catflap To Pets

On Tuesday 14 November 2023, the Queensland Government passed new body corporate laws. The new laws will commence on a date yet to be announced, which is likely to be in early 2024. 

Three things to know about new strata laws regarding pets:

  1. The new legislation is extremely pet-friendly
  2. Existing ‘no-pets’ by-laws are confirmed as invalid, along with restrictions on pet size and number
  3. Bodies corporate can impose ‘reasonable’ restrictions on pet ownership

 

Pets in Strata

The issue of pets in strata has been discussed at length, and the State Government has come to the position where pets are almost as important as children to many people.

The government is making it very clear that pets are expected to be part of strata communities.

Catfights of strata past

Over the past 25 years, the Commissioner’s Office has delivered many adjudications about pets where bodies corporate have tried to refuse them, and really all the litigation to date has hung off the words ‘oppressive’ or ‘unreasonable’.

Adjudicators have based their rulings on whether bodies corporates’ conditions in relation to keeping pets or refusals to keep pets have been ‘oppressive’ or ‘unreasonable’.

What the government has done with the amendments to the BCCM Act is to almost incorporate many of the principles from the Commissioner’s Office decisions into the legislation itself.

Beware of dog – and invalid by-laws

The government has made some very specific references to by-laws that attempt to prohibit pets: A no-pet by-law is invalid.

They’ve stated that by-laws that prohibit the type of pet, or the weight of the pet, or the number of pets, are invalid.

However, bodies corporate can impose reasonable conditions in relation to the keeping of pets, and that might include, for example, keeping a pet in a cage while it’s being transported in a lift.

A body corporate might also be able to prohibit pets where there’s a danger or an unacceptable risk to the health or safety of another owner, occupier or native fauna that can’t be managed by conditions.

What you can do

This legislation is very pet friendly, so it’s going to be extremely difficult for a body corporate to refuse consent to the keeping of a pet from this point forward. Now, that’s not to say it can’t happen, but if a body corporate is looking to do it, they’re going to have to have very solid grounds to do so.

If you have a “no pets” by-law currently, it will be invalid moving forward. We recommend a review of your scheme’s by-laws to ensure they remain current and legally enforceable under the new laws.

If you need help, please reach out.

Author: Hynes Legal 

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