Pets in strata

Horizon Towers, 208 Pacific Highway, Hornsby

Animals were not permitted at Horizon Towers, 208-210 Pacific Highway, in 2014.

Periodic bouts of barking at various times of night or day drew my attention many years later to the presence of a dog in D Block. After initially ignoring owners’ complaints, a declaration was submitted to declare that a resident required a pet for psychological reasons. A motion to allow pets in the strata was rejected at an Annual General Meeting and after a while the terrier was no longer seen or heard.

NSW Government guidelines

Subsequently, legislation has changed. According to NSW Government / Housing and Construction /  Strata / Living in strata / ‘Pets in Strata’ that was last updated on 23rd June 2023 :  “An owners corporation cannot stop you from owning a pet unless the pet causes ‘unreasonable interference’ - for example, it is a dangerous or restricted dog. However, your pet or pets must not disturb other residents in your scheme.

“You may need to tell the owners corporation or strata committee in writing if you want to have a pet.

“Owners corporations can create their own rules for pets. Make sure to check your scheme’s by-laws. However, by-laws banning all pets are not valid and banning animals based on size, type, or quantity, will not be valid in most circumstances.

“If you rent, your landlord can decide whether you are allowed to keep a pet at the property.”

The following answer is given to the question ‘Can an owners corporation evict me or my pet?’ :

“The owners corporation cannot evict you, but may try to remove your pet.

“The owners corporation can only remove your pet if it causes ‘unreasonable interference’ to others or your pet’s behaviour has broken a by-law.

“They must follow the proper process and give you a chance to fix the situation before they attempt to evict your pet.

“If you have broken a by-law, the owners corporation must first issue you a ‘notice to comply’ asking you to stop your pet’s behaviour.

“If the behaviour continues, you or the owners corporation can contact NSW Fair Trading for free mediation.

“If the issue is not resolved, anyone involved in the dispute can apply to the Tribunal to remove the animal.”

Dog barking within C Block

After hearing a dog barking from inside my apartment, I was concerned that someone in my block was keeping a pet even though the Owners Corporation by-laws had not been updated for pets. Barking could be heard when I was in my kitchen and dining area and from the bathroom and master bedroom in my apartment. Unit 86, C Block, 208 Pacific Highway was on the other of the internal wall.

Usually there were voices heard when the dog was barking but sometimes the dog barked alone. While the animal was young, an App was used to measure the volume. When someone shouted at the dog after it barked, the shout was an average of 5 decibels higher.

When I was watching the television, I didn’t usually hear the dog barking but occasionally at a quiet moment I would hear it.

I monitored the number of barks within each minute from January 2023 as the barking was becoming persistent and annoying.

During the month of January, I heard barking on 15 out of the 31 days. The numbers of barks per day on those 15 days ranged from 2 to 46. The highest number of barks per minute was 11.

The daily counts on 16th January 2023, and again one week later, are illustrated in a chart below:

Chart of beagle bark counts on 16 January 2023 at 86 Horizon Towers Hornsby

Conversation with neighbour when seen with their dog

A resident in C Block was coming up the stairs with a young beagle on the morning of 25th January 2023. I recognised her from Unit 86. Despite our proximity, I don’t see either occupant in that apartment very often; so I spoke to her on that occasion.
The following is my recollection of the conversation “I am just letting you know that this dog is annoying me. It is young so you can still train it, but if it progresses to become a nuisance then this will be a problem for you.”

“Why is it annoying?” she asked.

“I can hear the noise, and it is getting louder.”

“It is no louder than children. It is going to training.” She said.

“I am just letting you know.”

She was already in her doorway, entered and closed it.

For the record, the procedure for making a complaint from the NSW Government page ‘Pets in strata - Making a complaint about another resident's pet’ states:

“If you have concerns about another resident’s pet, try speaking to the pet owner first. They might not know about the problem, for example if a dog is barking non-stop when they are at work.

“When talking to the pet owner, remember that pets are often seen as ‘part of the family’. Be friendly and pick a good time for both you and the pet owner.

“Some schemes have an internal dispute process that you could use. Ask your strata committee or strata manager if there is one.

“If the pet’s behaviour has broken a by-law, the owners corporation can issue a notice for the owner to stop the behaviour. If it is still not resolved, anybody involved in the dispute can apply to the Tribunal for an order to remove the animal.”

Over time, I heard the barking less intently.

Barking became persistent again so records were taken again. Either the benefits from training had worn off or else that the neighbours had returned from an extended absence.  The dog had barked on 87 occasions on five days that I was recording. The counts per minute on 6th June 2023 are charted.

Chart of barks per hour on 26th June 2023 at 86 Horizon Towers in Hornsby

61 barks in one day is the highest number that has been recorded since the beginning of the year.

The number of barks per day of records was higher in June (17.4 barks per day on days recorded) after the training than during January (16.4 barks per day).

This behaviour unreasonably affects the peace and comfort in my apartment.

Fortunately the severity of disturbances has not reverted to the experience in June. However as the animal is maturing, there have been some howls from the hound. Three howls followed an hour after some barks in August. On 1st October 2023 a few barks ended with a howl.

Incidence of barking and howling from Beagle at 86 Pacific Hoghway Hornsby in October 2023

None of these incidents merit raising a complaint but the situation will be monitored because a bout of howling with the same frequency that was displayed in June this year will amount to a serious disturbance.

The beagle dog breed

The NSW Government advises that by-laws should not be based on size or type of animal but challenges are imposed on rendering a beagle dog to comply with expectations in close proximity to neighbours residing in apartments because of the breed characteristics.

Beagles are popular because of their small size and gentle temperament, but when left alone they are prone to howling and suffering anxiety due to the breed characteristic of being a pack dog; so can struggle to be alone. They aren’t yappy dogs, but from the “hound” group they do have three distinct vocalizations — a bark/growl, a baying howl, and a half-baying howl (a cross between a frantic bark and a bay). Apparently they can do well in apartments if their owners are willing to walk them on a lead several times a day.

By-laws cannot restrict a dog by breed but an owner must be aware that by bringing a puppy onto the confines of apartment dwelling, they are subject to compliance with various conditions.

Strata By-Laws for Strata Plan 54729

Clause 5 Keeping of animals is ambiguous because “An owner or occupier ... must not keep any animal on the lot...” is inconsistent with the next sentence “... a limitation of two animals per lot would be allowed...”

NSW Government ‘Pets in Strata’ states that restrictions “based on size, type, or quantity, will not be valid in most circumstances.”

For these two reasons, I would rearrange Clause 5 to make it compliant with current regulations, to retain the original intent, and to remove ambiguity:

“An owner or occupier of a lot must not keep any animal on common property.

Having regard to the layout of the Owners Corporation, the size and total number of Lots in the strata scheme and the common property amenities and in order to ensure the efficient operation and management of the strata scheme, a limitation of two animals per lot would be allowed at any one time.

An animal that causes ‘unreasonable interference’ - for example, a restricted breed or one that becomes dangerous or adversely affects the use and enjoyment by other Owners or Occupiers of their Lots or the common property – cannot be retained.

For clarification, unreasonable interference means that a pet has behaved badly towards other residents or animals. This could include:

making noise that unreasonably affects the peace, comfort or convenience of another resident
repeatedly running at or chasing another resident or animal
attacking or threatening another resident or animal
repeatedly causing damage to common property or someone else’s property
risking the health of another resident, through infection or infestation
causing a constant unpleasant smell in common property or someone else’s property.

It is also an unreasonable interference when:

the owner of a cat or dog breaches a nuisance order placed on it
a dog is classified as dangerous or menacing, or
a dog is a restricted breed under the Companion Animals Act 1998”


References behaviour. Internet

Dog time. Dog breeds. Beagle. Internet

NSW Government, 2023. NSW Government / Housing and Construction /  Strata / Living in strata / ‘Pets in Strata’. Updated 23/06/2023. Internet

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©Steve Bennett 2023