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Body Corporate Issues – need a good experienced solicitor

By EndBodyCorporates - 17 June 2011 16

I have lived in several body corporate run properties and know many others in complexes and on executive committees. Recently I bought and moved into a complex which seems to be run by a bunch of power mad cowboys who even had the Strata Managers changed to a mob who operate outside of the Strata Management Institute and therefore to an unknown “code of conduct”.

To date their behaviour and delaying tactics for a simple application of a small 5 year old dog (there are several dogs in the complex) have been not only  disrecpectful of a member of the unit corporation but also plain old bullying. The latest feedback is that the executive committee wants to make it so that pet applications will only be approved if neighbouring townhouses approve, so they are making these changes first!!

It looks like a ACAT showdown is coming and I have looked around for a good solicitor without much success (just crossed out number 3). Any advice or stories of similar experience would be greatly appreciated.

What’s Your opinion?


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16 Responses to
Body Corporate Issues – need a good experienced solicitor
Erg0 4:08 pm 20 Jun 11

“(4) In this section:
animal includes—
(a) an amphibian; and
(b) a bird; and
(c) a fish; and
(d) a mammal (other than a human being); and
(e) a reptile.”
So much for that loophole…

Watson 3:42 pm 20 Jun 11

Black said :

I bought a townhouse recently and from what I was told the unit titles act. Pets are allowed and they need a reason to refuse.;

“Pets

Rule 9 of the default owners corporation rules used to say that tenants could not keep animals unless the executive committee gave written permission. Rule 9 was removed from 17 December 2009, so no longer applies, even if your tenancy started before 17 December 2009. Now, section 51A of the Unit Titles Act 2001 deals with pets.

51A

Animals—owners corporation’s consent

(1)

A unit owner may keep an animal, or allow an animal to be kept, within the unit or the common property only with the consent of the owners corporation.
(2)

The owners corporation may give consent under this section with or without conditions.
(3)

However, the owners corporation’s consent must not be unreasonably withheld.
Note

An owner or occupier of a unit may apply to the ACAT to resolve a dispute with the owners corporation about keeping an animal, or allowing an animal to be kept (see s 123).
(4)

In this section:
animal includes—
(a)

an amphibian; and
(b)

a bird; and
(c)

a fish; and
(d)

a mammal (other than a human being); and
(e)

a reptile.”

From what I can tell this means that the norm is now that they are allowed and need a valid reason to deny someone having a pet. I have a dog and recieved formal permission without an issue, its pretty much a no strikes rule tho so if he annoys anyone they can ask him to leave.

Good luck! Body Corporate issue are a nightmare!

That’s great news!

Black 1:17 pm 20 Jun 11

I bought a townhouse recently and from what I was told the unit titles act. Pets are allowed and they need a reason to refuse.;

“Pets

Rule 9 of the default owners corporation rules used to say that tenants could not keep animals unless the executive committee gave written permission. Rule 9 was removed from 17 December 2009, so no longer applies, even if your tenancy started before 17 December 2009. Now, section 51A of the Unit Titles Act 2001 deals with pets.

51A Animals—owners corporation’s consent

(1) A unit owner may keep an animal, or allow an animal to be kept, within the unit or the common property only with the consent of the owners corporation.
(2) The owners corporation may give consent under this section with or without conditions.
(3) However, the owners corporation’s consent must not be unreasonably withheld.
Note An owner or occupier of a unit may apply to the ACAT to resolve a dispute with the owners corporation about keeping an animal, or allowing an animal to be kept (see s 123).
(4) In this section:
animal includes—
(a) an amphibian; and
(b) a bird; and
(c) a fish; and
(d) a mammal (other than a human being); and
(e) a reptile.”

From what I can tell this means that the norm is now that they are allowed and need a valid reason to deny someone having a pet. I have a dog and recieved formal permission without an issue, its pretty much a no strikes rule tho so if he annoys anyone they can ask him to leave.

Good luck! Body Corporate issue are a nightmare!

scorpio63 9:23 pm 18 Jun 11

100% correct Watson

emmsy77 5:42 pm 18 Jun 11

+1 Watson – well said – it’s not brain science

Watson 3:05 pm 18 Jun 11

troll-sniffer said :

but for dogs that should be in yards etc, approval is not granted, because it’s not fair on the animal as much as anything.

While I agree with the gist of your reply, being that the person who bought the property should’ve checked and agreed with the BC regulations beforehand, I don’t agree with the above statement.

You can come and watch my dog in my big suburban yard. She only ever uses a fraction of it and would be just as happy with a courtyard. The fact that I walk her twice a day religiously and allow her to sleep inside might have something to do with that. It is usually dogs that just get left to entertain themselves in the big yard that end up being the nuisance barkers.

As far as I’m concerned, there should be stricter rules about who should be allowed to own a dog. Nothing to do with yard size, just with whether you can meet the dogs basic needs. We’d have a lot less irresponsible dog owners and body corporates and landlords might be more inclined to allow them.

NoAddedMSG 2:42 pm 18 Jun 11

Hmm, wasn’t there some discussion/legislation happening a year or two back to prevent Body Corporates from just putting a blanket no pets ban in place?

troll-sniffer 12:23 pm 18 Jun 11

I didn’t want to wade in here but now that I’ve re-read the OP I feel I must.

What I’m reading is that this EndBodyCorporates person has bought into an existing strata complex and then tried to force the body corporate to accept his or her dog. Wow, what a way to get on with your new neighbours. All strata bodies I am involved with have a no pets policy as standard and extreme vetting is done for any applications to waive the rules. Consideration is given to those applicants who can demonstrate a proven regard for their neighbours etc, and generally approval is granted for suitable pets such as indoor cats and companion lap dogs for elderly folk, but for dogs that should be in yards etc, approval is not granted, because it’s not fair on the animal as much as anything.

Best of luck to you if you do manage to bully your way into getting your dog in despite it being made obvious it’s not welcome. All I can say is if you encounter mysterious problems with your property and lifestyle, you might find that pushing your neighbours’ buttons might not have been the smartest move you ever made, and no amount of whingeing or crying on here on RiotAct will save you from your self-imposed misery.

Watson 10:24 am 18 Jun 11

Chippie said :

I own several properties in different complexes and have generally found the non-Strata Managers Institute (SMI) members to be better value and more knowledgeable than the couple of SMI members I’ve had dealings with. There is a code of conduct for strata managers enshrined in the Unit Titles Act but there is not one apparent on the SMI site.

As with other commentators, there is nothing more annoying than having peace and quiet continually interrupted by yapping dogs or having your garden crapped on by cats. Life in a complex needs to be lived in a co-operative manner, that’s why complexes have Articles and House Rules – you should ask to see what kind of approval form was in existence for pet approval at the time you bought into the complex. It would be unfair if they were just imposing new rules on you You might want to look at the Owners Corporation Network site for information to support your ACAT showdown.

By the way I’ve heard there haven’t been any similar issues taken to ACAT yet so maybe you could be a test case. Best of luck with it.

There’s specific mention of disputes over animals in the legislation (http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/2001-16/current/pdf/2001-16.pdf), but all it says is that you can take it to ACAT.

I wouldn’t/couldn’t buy in a body corporate because of those restrictive pet rules. Which pretty much prices me out of the market.

I think it’s a pretty sad situation, because over 50% of households in Canberra own a pet. And lots of them get surrendered to the RSPCA or the pound because of body corporates and landlords not allowing them.

I can’t really see a big difference between having pets in townhouses or in separate title houses. If they are going to be a nuisance, the issues will occur at the boundary of the backyards/courtyards. The size or proximity of the houses doesn’t make much difference IMO.

I hope you can resolve the matter and keep the dog. It is incredibly cruel to expect someone to surrender their pet.

I do know a woman who fought the body corporate to keep her dog in an appartment. But she ended up having to provide an assessment from her psychiatrist and argue that the dog was vital to her mental health. Fortunately for the dog the woman had attempted suicide shortly before she got it. And she won the case.

Chippie 11:05 pm 17 Jun 11

I own several properties in different complexes and have generally found the non-Strata Managers Institute (SMI) members to be better value and more knowledgeable than the couple of SMI members I’ve had dealings with. There is a code of conduct for strata managers enshrined in the Unit Titles Act but there is not one apparent on the SMI site.

As with other commentators, there is nothing more annoying than having peace and quiet continually interrupted by yapping dogs or having your garden crapped on by cats. Life in a complex needs to be lived in a co-operative manner, that’s why complexes have Articles and House Rules – you should ask to see what kind of approval form was in existence for pet approval at the time you bought into the complex. It would be unfair if they were just imposing new rules on you You might want to look at the Owners Corporation Network site for information to support your ACAT showdown.

By the way I’ve heard there haven’t been any similar issues taken to ACAT yet so maybe you could be a test case. Best of luck with it.

Violet68 9:44 pm 17 Jun 11

You don’t need a solicitor if you are going to ACAT. The idea is to eliminate the need for solicitors and come to a mutually acceptable agreement. I haven’t been to Tribunal in ACT yet but in NSW, the members certainly encourage conciliation rather than pressing them for a decision. Just a suggestion, but it might be helpful to check the body corporate rules given to you at settlement and take them to a member at the ACAT for advice. I recently met with a member there who was able to clarify (work related stuff) for me. The staff were helpful too.

taninaus 9:13 pm 17 Jun 11

The legislation will back you up – something like the body corporate shall not unreasonably withold approval. doesnt matter if they are in the strata institute the law is the law. May be worth looking it up on http://www.legislation.act.gov.au and writing a stern letter telling them you know your stuff before you start paying lawyers.

as far as good body corporate lawyers, sorry can’t help there.

Kitty7 8:22 pm 17 Jun 11

I think it is perfectly reasonable for the affected neighbours to give a approval for an owner/tenant having a dog. I live in a townhouse complex, and have had 2 neighbours get dogs since I moved in several years ago. Luckily one lot were tenants, and they moved out at the end of the lease with their yappy dog. The other one gave away their dog because it was creating such a disturbance.

Unfortunately the sort of dogs that a lot of people get in townhouses are the little yappy dogs that bark nonstop whenever their owners are not at home. Extremely annoying if you do shiftwork and need to sleep, or if you just want to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet. It’s a bit hard to relax when all you can hear is the yappy dog barking through the walls you share with your neighbour.

Felix the Cat 6:42 pm 17 Jun 11

Seems fair enough to me that the other tennants have to approve it first, I wouldn’t want a yapping dog living next to me.

Chop71 12:32 pm 17 Jun 11

Body Corporates = Pay someone else fees to tell you what you can and can’t do with your own property. It’s a lose lose.

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