People thinking about buying off the plan or property investment in general should take note that in 2013 the NSW State Government announced a major overhaul of strata laws governing the rules and regulations of apartments, units and townhouses[i]. The changes are expected to be introduced into parliament this year, and they cover a wide range of rules and responsibilities among owners and tenants including:
- Potential fines for tenants who smoke on their balconies or other areas that causes “smoke drift” and ignore requests to stop
- The ability for an owner’s corporation to impose rules on the number of occupiers in a bedroom to prevent overcrowding
- Changes to the length of service of strata managers
- Council rangers to be given powers to patrol a building’s parking and authorise fines
One of the long overdue changes (and one that will be music to the ears of tenants and owners with pets) will be that certain pets (cats and small well behaved dogs) will be allowed to live in a property be default – although the new rule will only apply to new developments and the pre-existing strata schemes in older buildings will still apply. Under the proposed changes an owner’s corporation will have final say on any infringements such as an owner or tenant not cleaning up after the animal or a noisy pet disturbing the neighbours, and they will be given authority to “evict” the pet.
From a property investment point of view, this makes deciding whether to make your brand new or off the plan property in NSW pet friendly for tenants an easier choice. Although an owner’s corporation may still choose to ban pets once it has been set up, it is more likely that the overwhelming majority of owners will prefer to keep the default “pet friendly” status once it is approved by the State Parliament.
It has been argued that the changes to the strata by laws concerning pets is overdue, considering that over 30% of Australians own a pet of some sort, and it has been estimated that the percentage of people living in apartments, units and townhouses governed by strata laws will rise dramatically over the next few decades.
People investing in property should also keep in mind that there are many advantages to having a pet friendly property available for tenants. With such high pet ownership among tenants, you are not only likely to attract a much wider portion of the population (and pits you ahead of the competition when the property market becomes competitive), but you will also be more likely to attract a buyer in the event that you wish to sell your property later on. According to real estate agents, pet owners can also often make the best tenants as they tend to move less frequently, can be more diligent about cleaning and maintaining a property and will be more likely to have good references as they must sometimes try harder to compete for properties with people without pets[ii].