Comment

Madonna King: Why high-rises can't ban your dog

Should you be able to keep a dog in a high rise block of units?

The answer, despite body corporate by-laws continuing to try to ban it, is a very clear yes.

It's not lawful to ban dogs from apartment complexes, but who cleans up the hair?
It's not lawful to ban dogs from apartment complexes, but who cleans up the hair? Photo: iStock

That verdict has been handed down by Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal decisions, which have essentially ruled that any by-law that has an absolute ban on keeping animals is unreasonable.

According to Carter Capner Law's legal practice director Peter Carter that makes it void under law that prohibits a by-law being "oppressive or unreasonable".

"A by-law saying that keeping pets is subject to body corporate discretion is, though, OK," he says. 

That means the owner of the animal has to apply to the body corporate with evidence that Fido or Marmalade or Monster or Buddy is house-trained, doesn't smell too much, won't play havoc with the rose garden or keep everyone awake all night.

With that evidence though, the body corporate's hands are tied; anyone can keep a dog or a cat.

That, in itself, is hardly controversial. Many people, whether they live in houses or units, have a pet dog or a pet cat.

But it is opening an anxiety floodgate in some unit complexes as unit owners or tenants increasingly push the barrow on what is "reasonable".

What about two dogs? Is that reasonable? Or two cats?

What about a dog, the size of a six-year-old?

Is it fair on the pets themselves to be cooped up all day, and night, without a yard to roam free?

Who, and how, do you settle arguments over cat hair in common areas, or a dog barking at a passing car?

The complexities that come with increasing animal ownership doesn't end there either.

Developers, wanting a sale, are opening their arms to those wanting to keep pets in a high rise. It can help a sale.

But landlords - not body corporates - can still prevent pets contractually, being in their apartment.

Carter says anti-discrimination issues will also soon surface, if they have not already. 

Let's take the example of a comfort animal, that assists a visually-impaired person, or an anxious person. 

"This would trump a landlord prohibition and would be a factor a body corporate must consider," Carter says.

And that's only the beginning. Last month, jogging on the Gold Coast, I came across a fellow jogger, pushing a two-carriage pram.

On one side, sat a small child, wearing a bonnet. A dog, in a matching bonnet, sat in the second carriage.

Stay informed. Like the Brisbane Times Facebook page

5 comments