One of the most significant parts of the new tenancy legislation is that the landlord must give the tenant an answer within 14 days after receiving the application. If the landlord does not respond within 14 days, or if the landlord says no but that decision deviates from the approved list of reasons to refuse a pet, then the pet application is deemed to have been approved.
Silence from the owner = pet application is approved
We anticipate problems will arise within body corporate schemes when:
- Investor owners who previously did not allow pets at all, may not know their body corporate’s by-laws around pets (as previously they didn’t need to)
- If a by-law requires that pets must receive committee approval, under the body corporate legislation the committee has at least 6 weeks to consider the application, creating an unavoidable conflict between the 14-day owner approval timeframe, and the 6-week approval timeframe for the body corporate.
Under the law, an owner’s approval of a pet, or deemed approval if they do not respond within 14 days, is void if the body corporate by-laws are breached by the approval.
The challenge is, regardless of the breach, most tenants will bring the pet into the property immediately after receiving approval from the owner. The body corporate will then be left in a position where:
Scenario 1 – Good outcome
- The tenant now has a pet in the building with the owner’s approval, but without body corporate’s approval
- The body corporate must enforce the by-law breach against the tenant
- The owner or agent must also enforce a tenancy breach against the tenant, as a by-law breach automatically creates a tenancy breach for the tenant
The body corporate for 500 Roger Street CTS 12345 has a typical by-law, which states that each resident must obtain committee approval before bringing a pet into the building.
A lot owner, Ms White (investor owner) is open to considering pet applications from her tenants and is aware of the body corporate by-laws.
Ms White receives an application from her tenant to get one dog. Ms White consults with her rental property manager, and approves the application subject to:
- Needing to also obtain body corporate approval
- Conditions about maintenance, damage and carpet cleaning
The tenant, after receiving this approval from Ms White, makes an application to the body corporate to keep one dog within the lot.
The body corporate committee considers the application and approves it, subject to:
- Conditions about noise, nuisance, and use the dog cannot go into the swimming pool area
After the tenant has received approval from BOTH the owner and the body corporate, the tenant buys a dog and enjoys being a happy pet owner.
Scenario 2 – Bad outcome
The body corporate for 123 Smith Street CTS 12345 has a typical by-law stating each resident must obtain committee approval before bringing a pet into the building.
A lot owner, Ms Stern (investor owner) has previously not allowed pets in her rental unit due to concerns about damage to the carpet.
Under the new tenancy laws, Ms Stern receives an application from her tenant to get one dog. Ms Stern is not aware of the body corporate by-laws requiring all pets to be approved by the committee, and after discussing the application with her rental property manager, approves the application subject to conditions about damage and carpet cleaning.
The tenant, after receiving Ms Stern’s approval letter, purchases a dog costing $5,000 and brings it into the unit.
Shortly after, the body corporate committee receives complaints about a puppy barking in the lot. It notifies Ms Stern about a dog residing in her lot without approval, and that any approval she has issued to her tenant is inconsistent with an existing body corporate by-law and subsequently void.
Ms Stern’s, through her property manager, informs the tenant the pet approval is now void, and that neither the tenant nor Ms Stern had reviewed the body corporate by-laws prior to making, or approving the application.
Ms Stern instructs the tenant to:
- remove the dog temporarily and leave it with a friend
- apply for body corporate committee approval to keep the pet, which may take up to 6 weeks
The tenant is very unhappy about this and decides to pursue costs from Ms Stern relating to the purchase price of the dog, the cost of temporary accommodation, and early termination of the tenancy if the body corporate does not approve the pet.