Landmark court decision prevents blanket bans on pets in apartment buildings

·News Reporter
·3-min read

Blanket bans preventing animals inside NSW apartment buildings have been outlawed in a landmark ruling following a painstaking campaign from a desperate dog owner.

The verdict, announced on Monday after a unanimous decision from all three sitting judges at the NSW Court of Appeal, means pet owners won’t be subject to blanket bans anywhere in the state.

Dog owner Jo Cooper, a resident of apartment complex The Horizon in Darlinghurst, spearheaded a campaign five years ago to have the building’s pet ban overturned to allow legal residence for her miniature schnauzer, Angus.

This week her lengthy battle, that could have cost up to $250,000, came to an end, and the 43-storey building was ordered to absorb the cost of all hearings which could be up to $500,000.

Photo shows Jo Cooper kissing the head of her dog Angus.
Jo Cooper (pictured with Angus) began campaigning for the bylaw to be overturned five years ago. Source: Facebook

Management of The Horizon have just one avenue left to appeal the decision - the High Court of Australia.

Nearby complex Elan, in Kings Cross, also enforced a blanket ban on pets but will now be subject to an overhaul following the decision.

The building is currently involved in a dispute with resident Bob Roden, 73, who applied to the NSW Civil Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) for permission to have a dog in the future, according to Domain.

He initially won his case, as did Ms Cooper, but the decision was overturned by an NCAT appeal panel. Monday’s ruling overturned the appeal.

The Court of Appeal ruled that the ban infringed rules stating a bylaw must not be “harsh, unconscionable or oppressive”.

An amendment to the Strata Schemes Management Act allowing tenants to have pets recently passed through the Upper House in August, but still needs to pass through the lower house before becoming law.

Photo shows The Horizon complex in Darlinghurst, Sydney.
Strata at The Horizon will need to review its bylaws following the landmark decision. Source: Google Maps/Jonathan Moses

The review of the amendment could be the only thing standing in the way of outlawing blanket bans on pets.

A petition to the NSW Parliament, created by Jo Cooper, calling for an end to blanket bans on pets has attracted nearly 13,000 signatures.

“To the Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly, pets play a crucial role in many people’s lives,” the petition reads.

“They offer vital companionship, have well-documented mental and physical health benefits, and are increasingly recognised as part of the family.”

Ms Cooper also established a GoFundMe to raise $50,000 to fund her pricey legal campaign.

At the time, she wrote: “It’s costing me a lot of money and a lot of stress, but if I win, I win for everyone”.

More than $27,000 has been raised since the fundraiser was established in July.

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