NSW Government to review strata titles legislation – have your say
The scarcity of pet-friendly accommodation in Sydney is a growing problem, with heartbreaking consequences for cats and the people who love them.
The joys of the human-animal bond – and the great health and social benefits that go with it – are being denied to more and more people.
Pets make people better communicators; they encourage social interaction and contribute to social capital; they give physical health benefits including lower levels of cardiovascular disease and provide a buffer against grief and stress.
As urban density increases, strata title is the fastest growing residential segment in NSW. Unless strata laws change to be more pet-friendly, few people in the future will be allowed to have pets and this will lead to a decline in personal and community wellbeing.
In our discussion paper on pet-friendly accommodation, we note that strata schemes might be concerned that allowing pets will lead to noise, disputes between neighbours and hygiene issues but realistically, all those concerns are equally likely to come from human tenants.
The best way to foster good neighbours is to set down practical and reasonable rules for pet owners and straightforward dispute resolution procedures.
An arbitrary limit on animal size or numbers is neither practical nor reasonable. A pair of cats can be happier than a single cat, as they enjoy each other’s company. Cats are perfectly suited to apartment living and make great neighbours when they are cared for by socially responsible people.
This is the key issue – people. Outright bans on companion animals in strata schemes are blunt instruments used to deal with a small number of difficult people, or alternatively simply reflect a prejudiced view against all companion animals.
What we need is legislation that ensures permission to keep pets is the default position – as it is in the ACT under their Unit Titles Act 2001.
Currently, in NSW owners corporations can impose blanket ban on pets; change by-laws from being pet-friendly to pet-unfriendly; and by-laws can be structured such that pets are allowed with permission but permission can be withheld without reason. In this case, decisions made by the owners corporation relating to applications for keeping an animal are hidden and protected from review. This can lead to capricious or biased decision-making, leaving residents at the whim of the owners corporation.
As long as your pets don’t interfere with the ability of your neighbours to enjoy their property, then arguably your neighbours should not be allowed to restrict your right to the quiet enjoyment of your property, which might include pet ownership.
The NSW Government has announced that a major review of the legislation governing strata and community title will commence in mid-2012. An on-line consultation is now underway which Fair Trading Minister, Anthony Roberts MP, says will feed into the Government’s review.
Here is your chance to speak up for pets and the people who love them. To participate in the on-line consultation on the strata review, go to www.openforum.com.au/strata before 29 February 2012.
You might also wish to write to your local member of State Parliament expressing your support for a more pet-friendly NSW.
We’ll keep doing all we can to find loving homes for cats in need but we need more homes to be available. It breaks our hearts that so many people and pets are denied a life together by discriminatory housing policies. Please help to end this suffering.