chihuahua-624924_960_720Perth pet owners often react with shock when they discover their new pet won’t fit – or is not allowed – into their apartment. We look at how pet rules work in complexes.

Paula Jones remembers the day she turned the corridor of a Perth apartment complex and came face-to-face with a dog nearly as tall as she was.

So tall, in fact, it was best described as a horse.

“The owner would let it out and it would wander the corridors,” says the Colliers International Associate Director of Residential Management. “I went back to the office and tried to describe it and we eventually realized it was an Irish Wolfhound. It was absolutely huge.”

While that particular pet was tolerated by the apartment’s council of owners, most are not so accommodating. Many strata councils have developed bylaws that restrict animal ownership in apartments, with the rules changing complex to complex. Under WA’s Strata Titles Act, residents are not allowed to keep any animals once given notice not to by the strata council. The only exception is that a strata council cannot prohibit the keeping of a guide dog by someone partially or completely blind.

“Some councils will restrict you to one neutered dog or cat; others have weight limits that can’t be exceeded, such as allowing a dog up to 10kg,” Ms Jones says.

“But even if dogs are permitted, the breed matters. An Old English Sheepdog would normally be far too big but a small yappy dog might also make you very unpopular with the neighbours.”
Before you move into your new apartment or try to rent one with a pet in tow, Ms Jones recommends asking just what the bylaws — and property manager — will allow.

“We get a lot of requests about indoor rabbits and it is very common in the UK to have them,” she says.

“For rental properties we tend to advise against them, as rabbits like to chew on electrical cords.”

Birds don’t require much space but can be excluded in some complexes because of noise. Fish would normally be fine (provided the tank is not big enough to represent a flooding hazard) and indoor cats are often accepted without trouble.

The strangest request Ms Jones has seen from a potential tenant was for a pet tarantula, which was politely refused.

“I wouldn’t be going in for property inspections with a tarantula wandering around,” she said.

Ms Jones says animals and apartments can live in harmony, but getting the right pet is essential — as is working with other pet-loving owners to set fair rules.

One Melbourne complex has just unveiled Australia’s first high-rise dog park, following the lead of properties elsewhere in the world that offer rooftop walking tracks and ‘yappy hours’.
That development has also teamed with animal rescue shelters to connect residents with apartment-sized pets.

“Australia has some of the highest pet ownership in the world and as people in Perth adopt apartment living, they will want to bring their pets as well,” Ms Jones says.
“The key is finding the right pet and the right complex so residents can balance the needs of their neighbours with the joy that comes with having a pet you love.”