Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pet Friendly Apartments

A resident of an apartment recently filed a dispute resolution request to an Adjudicator within the Body Corporate Commissioners Office in Brisbane, disputing the current status of the by-law in the residential high-rise building 212 Margaret Street, BRISBANE QLD 4000. The resident was protesting the total pet ban in the buildings by-laws.

Basically, the Adjudicator has upheld the protest that the 212 Margaret by-laws, which did not permit any pets at all, were invalid and unenforceable, and has ordered them changed to a permissive by-law. This dates back to a CCT ruling in 2008 (Tutton v Body Corporate for Pivital Point Residential) where the CCT magistrate ruled that total pet bans were unreasonable since certain species of animal could on no rational basis cause any difficulty to any other lot owner.

The Adjudicators have been ruling that total pet bans are invalid since that time (there are quite a few decisions it seems), and have forced Body Corporate's in every case since to alter their by-laws back to standard (animal/pet) permissive ones when an owner applies for Adjudication.

In addition, it appears there has been a further QCATA ruling in September 2010 -- McKenzie v Body Corporate for Kings Row Centre 28/09/2010 -- in which the tribunal decided that even by-laws that attempt to ban only a certain type of pet (cats and dogs) are also so unreasonable as to be effectively invalid and unenforceable. In that case, the disputed by-law was permissive of pets in general but attempted to outright ban only 'cats and dogs' specifically.

Essentially this all comes together to mean that a (or any! within a Community Titles Scheme) Body Corporate can no longer expect to ban pets (or any kind of pet) outright, even if they have already done so by voting in a ban/restrictive by-law, or even if the building was originally set up with a pet ban/restrictive by-law.

It also means that if anyone protests such a restriction, the Adjudicators will uphold their protest, allow the pet (if it's a reasonable request and there is no evidence of a reasonable reason the pet would be unsuited to the property), and forcibly change the by-law back to a permissive one. Just like they just did with 212 Margaret.

The flow on outcome from these rulings are clear: the face of Community Titles Schemes must now change - pets can no longer be banned, and Committees and Body Corporate's can no longer expect to stop people from bringing their pets to live with them in apartments, units or townhouses - unless they can provide reasonable grounds or evidence that the particular pet would be unsuited to the lot. From what I understand, this new thinking has already been tested multiple times in the Appeals process and the Adjudicators subsequent interpretation of this has also been made abundantly clear.

212 Margaret is now (forcibly) pet friendly.

Which is probably a good thing, because statistics I have seen show that apartment buildings that are pet friendly have more owner occupiers and have greater capital appreciation.

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