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Pets in apartments

By RandomGnome - 26 June 2008 38

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.

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.

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38 Responses to
Pets in apartments
astrojax 10:32 am 27 Jun 08

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.

what was the outcome? i have long pondered this aspect of the body corporate rules – a quiet cat is a much better neighbour than a boisterous teenager. and the fact of my life in my space being untowardly impinged upon irks me: i’d be keen for this to be legaly tested and wonderd if it had. any light to shed,gnome?

good luck, btw – get a pack of rottweilers (not that they’re actually viscious, all big sooks!) and ask the complainers in to discuss their problems!!

Dante 10:07 am 27 Jun 08

We were told that pets weren’t allowed, but we’ve since been allowed a fish tank and a turtle tank.. dogs and cats are apparently out of the question. Forget the fact that the apartment has flooded before and carpet needs to be replaced anyways, but no, that’s not going to happen until we move out *yawn*.

FC 9:55 am 27 Jun 08

cmdwedge – The difference I guess in your situation is that no one has any power to enforce it.
You own the place then there is sweet f all the B/C can do.
And no one really cares about their neighbours having pets unless they are a nuisance (barking all the time etc)
However if I was renting my place out I probably wouldn’t want pets. Although pets do seem to wreck less things than children.
Can you put a kiddie ban on properties too? 😉

Pesty 9:31 am 27 Jun 08

realityskin said :

A goldfish is hardly a pet…….

Because its cold blooded? Does that mean then keeping a 3 metre Python would also be OK!

cmdwedge 9:26 am 27 Jun 08

Aurelius – what about people who actually purchase their own apartment (ie: don’t rent) and then get told that the ‘body corporate’ disallows pets. In your own, paid-up home.

This exact situation (almost) affects us. We just brought our cat in anyway, and waited for the complaints. Never got one – we’re very quiet and neat/tidy people and the people on the ‘board’ love us. So much so that we’re now on this ‘board’ ourselves.

Aurelius 9:17 am 27 Jun 08

Pets are disliked by landlords because some tenants aren’t mature and responsible.
The landlords are just protecting their property. If anyone’s to blame, it’s the hundreds of irresponsible pet owners who’ve gone before you.

NoAddedMSG 9:10 am 27 Jun 08

Hmm, so I went and looked out our bodycorp rules, and it seems pets are banned. I have two substantial fish tanks, which we declared when signing the lease. I signed a pet bond with them too. Given that the agent managing our place is pretty obsessive about following the rules to the letter, I am guessing that body corp “no pets” rules are generally interpreted as not including fish.

I also discovered that our body corp rules includes a ban on children playing outside unsupervised. So the 9 year old who is always kicking a footy round the back lawn on his own is breaking the rules. That is pretty petty.

realityskin 9:09 am 27 Jun 08

A goldfish is hardly a pet…….

Pesty 8:02 am 27 Jun 08

jake555 said :

We have a written agreement with our landlord to fix any ‘damage’ that our pets may cause. Part of the agreement is that we fumigate the premises, inside and out, if we should leave.

The fumigation clause is pretty standard, Fact is, its out-dated now. I meet a lot of people in my line of work having to pay out to treat the rental property they are vacating for fleas, and the animal has never had a flea in its life thanks to modern preventative treatments (Fromtline?. On the other side of tyhe coin, animals can & do cause a lot of damage, cats in particular, and no matter how good an owner you are, and most are! you can’t always stop them. BTW I write this as an animal lover.

RandomGnome 10:43 pm 26 Jun 08

Thanks for the comments guys – it is very heartening to see that Canberrans do care – so many people who own pets feel like they are an integeral part of their family and would not even consider giving up a pet any more than say a child. Jake555 you have a very understanding landlord! Glad to see some have hearts.

While pet owners are in the majority, many of those who volunteer on executive committees can be quite tyranical and politically astutue enough to skew things in their favour – and the current legislation makes it all too easy for them to get away with it. As some of you may know in body corporates the larger your unit, the more powerful your vote (or entitlement) so it only takes a few of them to band together to ban things like pets becuase it suits them. But there is no real reason (as you guys point out) to ban pets. Most issues arise due to irresponsible pet ownership not the pet itself – this is something that legislation can fix.

For info I am trying very hard (along with a number of others) to get the legislation changed for all of us but the Government’s proposed ammendments are very poor. I will keep trying but I can’t help but feel that we Canberran’s are losing a valuable oppertunity to be leaders on this issue. If we can get some sensible ammendments in the Unit Titles Act (which covers owners and land lords), we can perhaps then make it easier for renters as well under the Tenency act.

If you do feel passionatly about this – you’ge got until the 23rd of August to make your feelings known to the Government and the opposition. Every little bit helps. We owe such a debt of gratitude to pets for giving us companionship, unconditional love, teaching our children and giving the elderly their continued independence. I just wish the Government would put more time and effort into this issue or at the very least make us more inline with the rest of the world!

PS. jake55 rant away your comments are not boring and your enthusiasm is greatly appreciated – spread the word.

jake555 10:06 pm 26 Jun 08

We have a written agreement with our landlord to fix any ‘damage’ that our pets may cause. Part of the agreement is that we fumigate the premises, inside and out, if we should leave.

When looking for a rental property, the ‘pet friendly’ places were generally s*&#holes, and by the time we found our current place (clean, secure) we were so desperate to live somewhere that we felt comfortable touching the door handles that we offered to pay higher rent and a ‘pet bond’, both of which were refused in good faith (woo hoo!). In four years, our pets have caused no damage, and no more wear and tear than we have, and I am thankful every day for our landlord. There is no way we would give up our pets, nor do I think we should ever have to for the sake of a rental. We would probably live in our car before parting with them.

Unfortunately, I think it’s a case of ‘a few bad apples…’ that make it so hard for every responsible pet owner looking to rent. Having a cat or …god forbid… a dog, conjures horrific images of floors lined with faeces and a urine smell in the carpets.

On a side note… I believe all ACT Government houses allow pets.

I’m beginning to wonder if there is such a thing as ‘pet discrimination’ running rife in our community? Over 65% of Canberran’s own a pet, shouldn’t we be the majority?

Sorry for the boring comment, but constantly hearing about rental shortages etc has me in a constant state of fear that we will have to leave our awesome place and live in the car. This was a nice vent for me.

iceu 9:03 pm 26 Jun 08

A bit off topic, but it’s also sad that it’s virtually impossible to find a rental property that will allow pets these days. In some cases I can understand the landlord’s concerns, but there are a whole lot of cats and dogs getting surrendered to shelters for this reason – very sad.

Timberwolf65 9:03 pm 26 Jun 08

I agree, I couldn’t imagine having to part with my animal family members, it would crush my soul and my kids wouldn’t cope either.
It’s just that some people living in apartment situations have neglected animals and the apartment ends up in a sorry state.
Thanks to those f#*ked up people, the good animal loving people and the animals suffer.

ant 8:58 pm 26 Jun 08

That’s pretty awful, especially for old people, it must be quite devastating. Why can’t people have animals? Let’s face it, they’re usually better behaved and cleaner than most children. I know who I’d rather have as close neighbours.

jake555 8:11 pm 26 Jun 08

I agree that the ‘forced’ separation of people and their pets is an utter tragedy.

In particular, I find it very sad that elderly people are separated from their pets when moving in to care facilities. For many, their pet may be their only consistent form of companionship.

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