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body corporate management

Pets and apartments

Pets in a body corporate

If you own a townhouse or apartment, you’re most likely part of a body corporate. This is the collective of owners responsible for managing and maintaining certain aspects of the property and setting and enforcing the rules for all who live there.  

If you’re also a pet owner, these rules will cover your furry friends – not only to ensure they’re welcome, but also to create a balanced coexistence between all residents – with or without pets.

The rules are called by-laws, and each set is specifically tailored to the building they regulate. These, along with government legislation, will define the type and number of pets each occupant is allowed, including where they can and can’t be within the complex.

This ‘pets and apartments’ resource hub is the first of our ‘learn more about where you live’ series for those in a body corporate. The resources are all free, and designed to support owners with insights, best practices, and expert perspectives on their shared community.

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Understanding the government’s stance on pet ownership is important, especially considering the stringent regulations governing body corporate, which significantly influences how it functions.

In 2022, Queensland underwent a significant legislation change, giving tenants the right to own pets. While this primarily impacted tenants and landlords, it serves as a clear indication that the government supports pet ownership for both owners and tenants, unless there is a compelling reason not to.

This is a big change from previous approaches, highlighting the societal shift towards pets as integral members of the family unit.

For owner-occupiers, this pet right was already in place within bodies corporate. While an approval process was, and still is, required, the focus has shifted from asking whether a person should be allowed to have a pet, to the mechanics of how to make that happen.

Landlords in Queensland are no longer permitted to reject pets in their properties unless, as previously mentioned, there is a compelling reason not to. The grounds for refusal are outlined in the law and are very narrow.

In Queensland, the pet approval process is governed by the unique by-laws specific to each body corporate building. Typically, these by-laws include a provision regarding pets, that will often stipulate that no resident can have a pet without prior approval from the body corporate committee.

Both owners and tenants are required to seek pet approval, resulting in frequent committee votes, and communicating the decision-making process to all owners.
A request for a pet is made to the body corporate committee. If you have a body corporate manager like BCsystems, you may find an application form on their website.

With this application you’ll need to include some information about your pet like it’s type, sex, proof of vaccination, and local council registration.

Committees, under the law, have 6 weeks to respond to all pet approvals. Most committees do it much faster than this, however, 6 weeks is the maximum legal timeframe.

These are some acceptable grounds to refuse a pet application in a body corporate scheme:

  • If the pet has a dangerous animal order against it
  • If it’s a banned dog breed in your local council area
  • If it’s an animal, but not considered a domestic pet – so a goat, llama or pig could be refused by the body corporate.
  • If there was more than a reasonable number of animals
  • If it was a commercial pet operation like doggy daycare
  • If the owner refused to have the pet vaccinated, microchipped or registered

As pets are now considered a right, committees can no longer make sweeping bans based on breeds, size, and potential barking issues. Refusals must be based only on the characteristics of the individual pet.


Acceptable grounds for refusing a pet application

Pets have long held a special place in our hearts and homes, and while pet ownership was already a right for owners with a body ...
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The chances of the body corporate approving a second pet would be greatly improved if you can demonstrate the good behaviour of the first one.

Again, if there are no reasonable grounds to reject the application, and your second pet is within the approved number allowed by your local council, then it is likely to have a second pet approved.
While some dogs may have a ‘reputation’ for being dangerous or aggressive, the body corporate must consider each pet application based on the characteristics of that particular animal.

Unless the dog has a) been issued with a dangerous dog notice or b) is a banned breed in your local council, the body corporate cannot reject the application based on reputation or personal bias.
Barking dogs in a body corporate

Barking dogs in a body corporate

In a body corporate where neighbours share spaces, barking dogs can pose a challenge to maintaining harmony and respect. This article explains how to manage excessive barking in a body corporate and outlines the responsibilities of pet owners

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Holiday apartment buildings are still body corporate schemes but with a slightly different use.

Catering to short-term residential stays, you will most likely find by-laws appropriate to the accommodation and catering to a quick turnover of residents. These may allow pets without a formal body corporate approval process, if they are disclosed at the time of booking.

Check the terms and conditions of your booking, which should reflect the by-laws of the property.
The short answer is no. Weight cannot be a deciding factor on whether to approve a do in a body corporate development. It has no baring on whether a dog will bark, bite or be a nuisance or not.

Like the type of breed of a dog, weight is arbitrary and should be removed from the body corporate by-laws.

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