We recently reported on a decision of the NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) which held that a by-law imposing a blanket ban on pet ownership was invalid under the Strata Schemes Management Act on the basis that it was harsh, unconscionable or oppressive.
This win for pet lovers has however been short lived with the Appeals Panel overturning the original decision and finding that such a blanket ban on pet ownership is permissible – The Owners-Strata Plan No 55773 v Roden (2020).
The Appeal Panel held that that the test of whether a no pet by-law is harsh, unconscionable or oppressive is not to be judged simply by considering whether the majority of people in the community at large consider that the keeping of an animal should be permitted. In the context of a strata scheme, the relevant community is the lot owners of that scheme. They have the ability to collectively choose to create and/or live in an animal-free building.
Further, if the scheme has a by-law prohibiting the keeping of animals, the owner’s corporation does not need to take into account whether a particular animal is suitable for living in a strata scheme environment, or whether there might generally be benefits from pet ownership.
It is anticipated this decision will not be the last say and we will likely require further judicial consideration from the Supreme Court before this controversial issue is settled.