What can the Body Corporate do if they are not happy with a dog in the apartment? – Audrey, QLD

Q: In mid-November 2018 my husband and I bought an apartment in Townsville. We asked the Body Corporate if we could have a small, old dog live in the apartment. The request was denied but no reason was given. Since then I have sent a couple more emails asking for the dog to be allowed to live with us. I have not received a response except through a third party who told me that instead of having a committee meeting to consider the request it was decided to have a meeting of all owners. I reminded this person that I am an owner and therefore should be invited to attend the meeting. Since then (about January) I have heard nothing and to my knowledge there has been no meeting. I subsequently decided to bring the dog into the apartment in mid-February and he has been there ever since and nothing has been said by anyone about it. As I take him out for a walk several times a day everyone is aware that he is there. I take care to make sure that he is well behaved, even having a baby sitter for him when we occasionally decide to go out at night. My question is, just what can the Body Corporate do if they are not happy about a dog being in the apartment? The by-laws state simply that permission is required to have a pet. As I understand it, if permission is denied a reasonable reason must be given. Apparently in the 20 years history of the apartment block there has never been a dog in residence.

Although the state laws allow pets, the body corporate may have special rules or by-laws regarding pet ownership and care. This is because body corporate properties have many kinds of residents who may or may not be pet-lovers. Some people may even be allergic to certain kinds of animals.

While choosing to get home a pet, it is important to be sensitive to other owners and residents as well so everyone enjoys their property in the best possible manner. You may contact your body corporate manager to understand the reason for the restriction and if exceptions can be made.

You should look into your by-laws on pet ownership and care – they should be able to guide you. If your by-laws are unnecesarily restrictive on the subject, you can discuss with your body corporate about amending them or adopting model by-laws that outline pet related matters specific to your property type. To do this, a motion should be filed in an AGM and a special resolution needs to be passed to formalise the new by-laws which need to be resgistered with your state for them to be effective.

For further information on by-law breaches, head to the Queensland Body Corporate and Management Office.

Also, you may wish to learn more about the impact of breaching strata property by-laws here.