Tips for Finding a Pet Friendly Apartment on the Northern Beaches

With a growing population, limited land supply and a high cost of housing within Sydney and the Northern Beaches, never before have we seen so many residents making the lifestyle switch to apartment living. Developers are enjoying the need for more high density developments, with the quarter acre block and backyard Hills Hoist being overcome by a new trend towards smaller or single person households and strata-title living with shared facilities, a balcony and common low maintenance grounds. Today, over a quarter of all Australian are living in medium or high density housing. It’s a social adjustment which raises one very hairy question… ‘Where do pets fit into apartment living?’

We Australian’s love our pets and as such, have one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world. Up until now we have considered it to be the Australian way of life and almost taken it for granted. So with growing numbers of people having no or limited yard space, keeping a pet is becoming a little more tricky. Considering the joy and companionship they bring to our lives though, it is well worthwhile finding ways to adjust to accommodate them in our lives. To assist, we have have compiled some key information and advice for keeping your beloved four legged friends in your apartment on the Northern Beaches.

pets in apartments on northern beaches

Understanding strata regulations for pets in apartment blocks

Most apartments are managed by a strata body which will mean there are certain legal limitations which will be need to be adhered to. Most strata schemes have standard By-Laws which state that an owner or occupier of the property must not keep an animal on the property without the approval in writing of the Owners Corporation. The Owners Corporation in return, must not reasonably withhold the approval of keeping an animal on the property. So essentially, most By-Laws do give fair access for pets to be allowed in a block.

So whilst goldfish don’t make a splash, larger pets do. Overly large dogs or untrained/ bad natured animals can damage property and/or disturb residents, which raises concerns for Owners Corporations and landlords. Smells, excrement (think of Parisian streets) and animal welfare issues such as pets being left alone in confined spaces for too long can cause conflict. So whilst they can be a bit of a pain, By-Laws are there to protect you so that unpleasant scenarios do not occur.

Please note that not all apartments have the standard By-Laws regarding animals so be sure to get your solicitor to check the contract thoroughly. Some blocks have certain By-Laws that prevent pets altogether. If you are living in one of these blocks, take note that you are always entitled to raise the need to change the By-Laws. Old By-Laws can be overturned. I have seen various cases where this has been successfully done with a bit of effort from a passionate pet owner or two in the block. Generally it will come down to winning the majority of votes from the owners in the block. A case will need to be presented to the Owners Corporation who must reasonably respond and take appropriate action. If you believe that the Owners Corporation has unreasonably denied you permission to keep a pet, you may plead your case to the Consumer, Trader & Tenancy Tribunal.  To avoid having to go to this length, it best to do your homework first and ensure you use a good dose of common sense when considering keeping a pet in an apartment.

Select a property that is appropriate to your pet, to your lifestyle and the size of the apartment. Check that the surrounding grounds and suburbs have the right facilities, as even if your pet is accepted by the Owners Corporation, your neighbours still have the right to lodge a complaint against your pet should they not live up to acceptable standards. The last thing you want is for your pet to be forced to be removed from the property. The only instance where a pet is unable to be refused is if it is a guide dog or a hearing dog.

Today though there are more and more ‘pet friendly’ developments being built all over the world, including the Northern Beaches. This essentially means that developers are responding to the high demand for them. Please note that if an apartment block or development is advertised as being ‘pet friendly’, it does not automatically mean that any pet is welcome. It simply means the By-Laws are much more welcoming for those with well-mannered animals. There will still be rules and regulations so be sure to get your solicitor to go over the contract thoroughly prior to signing any contracts.

From my experience ‘pet friendly’ blocks attract much higher numbers to open houses and add a minimum of 5-10% to the value of a property. Furthermore, apartments that do not allow pets are likely to attract less buyers and as a result, be worth significantly less than a similar property that is pet friendly. This information is well worthwhile mentioning to the Owners Corporation if you are trying to get a pet accepted into your apartment block or looking to get a By-Law changed to allow pets.

Will I be able to rent an apartment with a pet?

Tenants renting in a strata scheme are covered by the rules and guidelines of both the Residential Tenancies Act and the Strata Schemes Management Act. So if you wish to rent in a strata scheme, your landlord or the landlord’s real estate agent must provide you with a copy of the By-Laws set in the strata scheme and a copy of the lease. Once you have thoroughly gone over all the regulations, you will then need to seek approval from the landlord of the apartment to keep a pet on the property. Depending on the By-Laws for the scheme, your landlord may have to obtain the consent of the Owners Corporation, even if they agree that you may keep your pet in the rented apartment. You should not sign the lease until you have been informed by your landlord or the landlord’s agent that consent has been granted by both the landlord and the Owners Corporation.

From my experience I have found that renting an apartment with an animal is much more difficult than owning an apartment with an animal. Rentals can be quite competitive so it may be difficult to secure an apartment with a pet. Perhaps doing such things as offering  to pay a little more rent, prepare a written presentation for the Owners Corporation regarding your animal so it is easier for your landlord, or perhaps put in writing that you are willing to pay for any unexpected damage caused by your pet; (note: landlords are not allowed to ask for an additional “pet bond” from a tenant in NSW). The easier and more attractive you make it for the landlord, the more likely you will be to secure a rental.

pet friendly apartments on northern beaches

What facilities does the Northern Beaches have for my pet?

  • The Northern Beaches has more hospitals for animals than people, with around 90 or so animal clinics on the beaches. So you will have no trouble finding a nearby vet or animal clinic!
  • High fashion stores for pets are well catered for on the Northern Beaches, providing cats and dogs with the very best neckwear, clothing, sunglasses, bedding, accessories, beauty care, products and toys. ‘Dogue’ on Sydney Road in Fairlight is one of my wife’s personal top picks for fashion pet-wear. Our dog was fitted out in Chanel look-a-like outfit with diamantes for our wedding thanks to Dogue and the enthusiasm from Bernadette!
  • Despite covering the smallest local council area compared with the other peninsula councils, Manly has seven unleashed dog exercise areas compared with six parks in Warringah and Pittwater council areas. All councils on the Northern Beaches however do have amazing facilities for dogs, with great dog parks, beach walks and reserves that are sure to please both you and your pooch.
  • Manly, Warringah and Pittwater Council all have amazing facilities for animals, with great dog parks, beaches, reserves and walks that are sure to impress both you and your pooch. The Council websites have exact details of all the current dog areas which include 12 in Warringah Council, 8 in Pittwater Council and 13 in Manly Council which is impressive since it is by far the smallest council area. My top pick in each Council is as follows: Curl Curl Lagoon in Warringah Council, Rowland Reserve in Pittwater Council and Clontarf Beach in Manly Council. Be sure to check them all out as you won’t be disappointed.
  • ‘Pawfume’ retails in many chemists and pet stores across the Northern Beaches. It is perfume for dogs and is very popular – mainly with women, who account for 7 out of 10 buyers.
  • Northern Beaches pet owners are not restricted to mainstream medicine, but can try acupuncture, naturopathic remedies or may even benefit from a pet spa.
  • Rowland Reserve is a dog park at Bayview which has a beach area that opens out onto Pittwater. It’s not a normal surf beach as there is no surf or swell and no strong currents, so it is perfect for an outing out with your dog.
  • Clontarf has an area designated specifically for dogs at the other end of the beach called Sandy Bay. It’s excellent during low tide, about the size of a large soccer field, has no waves and is usually very quiet.
  • If your dog is living in an apartment and you are very busy or working full or part time, it is a very wise idea to look into finding a dog walker or even better, a Doggie Day Care. There are many great dog walking companies on the Northern Beaches. A personal pick for Doggie Day Care is Scoobydooz in Brookvale, which is like a school for your dog and assists with socialising, exercise, mental stimulation and building friendships with other dogs. Perfect for avoiding trouble with any fussy Owners Corporations!
dog spa

 

For further information or for help finding a pet friendly apartment on the Northern Beaches, phone or email us today!

Tim Cullen on   0424 006 855

Bernadette Cullen on   0414 618 908

 

This guide has been prepared for information purposes only and is subject to change. It should not be taken or relied upon for any legal purposes.

About Tim Cullen

Since joining McGrath Estate Agents 15 years ago, Tim Cullen has defined himself as a first class industry leader with an outstanding track record and rapidly growing and loyal client base. He ranked 1st on the Northern Beaches in this year’s Real Estate Business’ Top 100 Agents List and ranked 21st nationwide.