Blanket Ban on Pets in Apartments Now Lifted by NSW Court of Appeal

October 2020
A family sitting on a couch with a dog

Blanket Ban on Pets now Lifted by NSW Court of Appeal

One of Sydney’s biggest apartment towers, the 260-apartment Horizon in Darlinghurst, has lost their four-and-a-half-year long battle to ban owners’ pets from their buildings.  Horizon was struck down in a NSW Civil Administrative Tribunal finding, where tribunal members agreed with the pro-pet owners that the by-laws were “harsh, oppressive or unconscionable”, which would have rendered them invalid under NSW strata law.

The owners’ corporation of Horizon immediately appealed, with the panel rejecting the idea that the by-laws were “harsh, unconscionable and oppressive”, and overturning the previous decision.  This led to one determined dog lover residing in the Horizon apartment towers to appeal to the NSW Court of Appeal.

After four-and-a-half-years, it has now been found in a NSW Court of Appeal ruling that no apartment building in New South Wales will be allowed to have a blanket ban on pets.  In a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeal found that a blanket ban on animals breached the limitation that a by-law must not be “harsh, unconscionable or oppressive”, and has overturned the right of an owners corporation to pass by-laws prohibiting animals from their apartment blocks.

The Court also ruled that Horizon should be liable for the resident’s legal costs for all hearings, which could end up being in excess of $500,000.  The only possible way for appeal against this recent decision, would be through the High Court of Australia.

This ruling will have an extremely far-reaching effect, allowing tenants in New South Wales to keep an animal in their apartment, so it is crucial that buyers are aware of by-laws when purchasing a unit in an apartment complex.

At Sydney Property Conveyancing, we will always provide clear advice on by-laws and their effects.  If you have any questions about this particular issue, any by-law in your building that appears “harsh, unconscionable or oppressive”, or about strata title laws in general, don’t hesitate to contact us for advice and assistance.

Jeanette Khodeir and Isobel Bathgate
13 October 2020