There is a slient tragedy unfolding here in Canberra. I refer to the increasing number of pets being abandoned as households downsize (due to age or higher interest rates) to apartments which have an outright ban on pets.
As many of you will know its difficult to find an apartment in Canberra that is pet friendly. Usually a small number of politically active members on body corporates who don’t want pets change the rules so that pets ownership is banned. What makes this situation worse is that the Act which governs these rules makes it easy to ban pets
As some of you may know a review of the Unit Titles Act (which governs apartments and other strata complexes) has been going on since late 2006. And despite getting in a high priced consultant from QLD and heaps of great suggestions from the community, ACTPLA and Barr’s office have released what is unfortunately a very sloppy peice of draft legisalation. Leaving aside the numerous mistakes in referencing and unexplained acroymns, it does not make it any easier for pet owners to live in apartments.
Despite a fair bit of support shown by members of the public and some great suggestions by the RSPCA on how to make it easier to have a pet in an apartment (and improve animal welfare), the Stanhope Government as basically cut and pasted from the NSW act – which whilst a bit better than what we have still makes it no easier for pet owners – because the rules can easily be changed.
Now I could cite all the research about how apartment complexes that allow pets have greater rental returns and go up in value a lot faster, or how pets keep our senior citizens out of retirement homes for a lot longer – but us pet loving Canberran’s (we have among the highest levels of ownership in the world) already know all of that! Somehow though this community view is completely missing in the proposed legislation. And so body corporates will continue find it easy to ban pets.
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Now some of you will disagree with on having pets in apartments but I just don’t understand the fuss some people kick up about this. A resonsible owner will look after his or her pet and frankly little Billy’s goldfish in its little bowl is not really hurting the common good or communal living standards in an apartment complex! Yes there need to be reasonable limits on what kind of pets suit apartments and the RSPCA’ suggestion was that rather than let the body corproate decide let the RSPCA decide if a pet, its owner and the apartment complex are right for all concerned. But the government did not listen to this.
Further – the supreme court of Victoria has briefly debated the legality of such bans under a legislation which is really designed to look after common property and not impinge on the private use of a lot. That is to say, to try and dictate what happens in a person’s own home can be considered to be beyond the scope of the rulings of the body corporate.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, there is a slient tragedy unfolding and it has been made all the more worse by the fact that it could be overcome by sound legislation and common sense. So to all you pet lovers out there, get on the phone to Andrew Barr or your local member and let them know that living in an apartment should not curtail the freedom to have a pet.