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There is no argument that Australia is considered to have one of the world’s highest pet ownership populations.  It feels like every second person you know owns a pet! However, with people renting apartments or townhouses at an all time high, owners continually face an uphill battle to retain their beloved pets.  We have heard countless tragic stories of people forced to give up their pets since their strata building model bylaws essentially ban pets from being kept onsite. Hopefully these stories may start to become a thing of the past with the recent announcement of modifications finally being made to the NSW Strata Laws.
Fair Trading Minister, Anthony Roberts, asserts that 30 per cent of NSW population work or live in strata buildings (apartments or townhouses) and believes in the next 20 years this figure will increase to 50 per cent. Thus it is important that changes are made to NSW Strata laws to reflect the way of life in the 21st century. The recent amendments to NSW Strata Laws have entitled unit dwellers more control over day to day issues, particularly, pets.

The changes to model bylaws means that pets would now actually be allowed on the premises by default (originally pets were prohibited by default), and will only be banned from the premises if the strata committee votes against it. We find this vital change to the model bylaws is a commendable one and would be highly appreciated by pet owners everywhere.  However, in order for pet owners to truly benefit, rental laws also require amendment. The reason being that although strata committees now have the power to allow pets on the premises, individual landlords still have the final say on the matter.  

Unfortunately, the alterations to NSW Strata Laws will only apply to new developments, not current ones.  Dr Chris Martin, the NSW Tenants Union Senior Policy Adviser,  points out that the new laws would have more of an impact if they were also implemented as default for all existing strata buildings. Therefore it appears that your current rental property may not be openings its doors to pets as of yet, but who knows what will happen in the future.  Or perhaps it may even be beneficial to look into moving to an up and coming strata property that must abide by the more ‘pet friendly’ approach. The new laws will be incorporated from mid 2014.