Q: Am I able to have companion pets in apartments in Victoria? Is it possible for companion animals to be banned at my scheme?
The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 protects people with disabilities from discrimination, which includes protection from discrimination because a person has an assistance dog.
The Owners Corporation Act 2006 and associated Regulations (2007), allow for rules to be made with respect to the use of Common Property. The Model rules, contained in the Regulations, by default, allow for animals to be kept within an Owners Corporation and simply includes a provision to remove animals that are a danger or are causing a nuisance to the common property, with the exception of guide dogs or assistance dogs.
The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 protects people with disabilities from discrimination, which includes protection from discrimination because a person has an assistance dog. This Act doesn’t apply this protection to other types of companion animals.
Whilst some Owners Corporations have set rules prohibiting the keeping of pets, and attempt to enforce them, s140 of the OC Act expressly states that rules are to be of no effect if inconsistent with law. VCAT has stated, on occasions where such a rule has been challenged, that such a rule unfairly discriminates against lot owners or occupiers (s140(a)) and ruled that they are invalid and of no effect.
Decisions like this from VCAT reinforce the point that Owners Corporations cannot put in place a blanket ban on pet ownership.
It is common to see rules written that state that dogs must be restrained whilst on Common Property or prohibited from certain areas, such as swimming pools, which is a completely reasonable means of managing the use of Common Property and can be enforced.
The expansion of the rule-making power of an Owners Corporation is currently under consideration as part of the Consumer Property Law Review being undertaken by Consumer Affairs Victoria, however I would be surprised if it were to change with respect to keeping of pets.
In short, there is nothing currently preventing a responsible pet owner from keeping pets in apartments, companion animals or otherwise.