I want a companion dog for certain health reasons as I’m on a disability pension and my committee are not very flexible. Legally where do I stand? – Conrad, NSW

Q: I’m an apartment owner in a tower in the western suburbs. You are allowed two dogs but a certain size. You must carry your pet on all community common areas including lifts and tiled main foyer. My dog died last week and I am moving back into my apartment, as I rented it out for the past 3 years. If I get another dog it will be about 30 cm taller than the strata by-laws allow, but still a medium size dog. The type of dog I want is a Wheaten Terrier. I have a bad back and can’t carry the dog even though it’s not a heavy dog. The dog would be a companion dog for certain health reasons, I am on a disability pension. My committee are not very flexible. Legally where do I stand? Thank you.

In New South Wales, restrictions on pet ownership can be amended if you follow the correct steps.

First, you should check with your strata scheme and go through your by-laws regarding pet ownership and care. If these by laws restrict the size of the pet and common property use, you can apply to have these by-laws amended. This is done by filing a motion in an annual general meeting (AGM) and seeking a decision through special resolution.

However, NSW Fair Trading details if the pet is a trained and certified assistance animal, then they are always allowed in a strata scheme, even if the by-laws prohibit other pets on the scheme. The owner of an assistance animal can provide evidence to the owners corporation, if asked.

You can apply to the Tribunal if an owners corporation refuses to approve an assistance animal. In all cases where pets are allowed, the lot owner must still supervise their pet, clean any common property that is soiled, and ensure their pet is quiet and does not negatively impact on other residents.

For further clarification on strata scheme by-laws head to the NSW Office of Fair Trading.

Take a look at this article on how you can navigate pet ownership in strata properties.