No pets is actually the norm

There is often discord over pets in sectional title (ST) complexes, but there needn't be, says Berry Everitt, MD of the Chas Everitt International property group.

"The very first of the prescribed conduct rules for ST schemes states that no owner or occupier of a section is allowed to keep an animal, bird or reptile without the written consent of the trustees.

"In other words, the ‘no pets' rule is actually the default position for ST schemes."

However, he explains, conduct rule number one also says that the trustees may not unreasonably withhold their approval if an owner or tenant applies to them for permission to keep a pet – although they can impose conditions under which that pet must be kept, and can change their minds if these are not met.

"On the other hand, the conduct rules pertaining to a particular ST scheme can be altered from the standard rules, either by the developer before establishment of the scheme, or more usually by the body corporate of the scheme after establishment.

"And provided these new rules are filed with the Registrar of Deeds, they are the ones that all owners and tenants in that ST scheme have to follow - which is how it is possible for some schemes to have an absolute ‘no pets' policy."

Writing in the Property Signposts newsletter, he says this possibility is also why it is very important for prospective buyers who would like to keep a pet to find out what the situation is before they commit to a purchase in any particular scheme.

"To some people a pet may be much more than a companion and may even be a reason to get up in the morning. It would be unthinkable for them to live without their pet.

"But if the sectional title complex they like has an amended rule that bans all or certain types of pets, or imposes a limit on the number of pets that an owner may keep, the trustees will have no choice but to follow that rule – no matter what they might privately think of a pet-lover's pleas to bend it."

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