Plans by the Queensland government to reform residential tenancy laws might be well-meaning, but they could amount to little since most rental properties are in community title schemes governed by bodies corporate, one expert has suggested.
Archers the Strata Professionals said that issues such as keeping pets or allowing property occupants to change window coverings are often determined by a body corporate committee and their strata scheme’s by-laws.
Partner Grant Mifsud said that bodies corporate are like a fourth layer of government.
“Except it’s the unit owners and not public servants who make up the committee and make the majority of decisions,” Mr Mifsud said.
“These decisions deal with situations that affect people’s living arrangements. As a tenant or owner within a strata property, it’s important to be aware of the things you can and can’t do in your strata scheme.”
Mr Mifsud said that this can result in complications.
“Some bodies corporate have by-laws called prohibitive by-laws which can prevent tenants and owners [from] keeping animals without exception or prohibit all animals of a particular type, such as cats, dogs or dogs over 10 kilograms.
“The committee cannot approve an animal that the by-laws prohibit. Tenants may need to ask the body corporate’s permission to keep an animal on their lot, as long as the by-laws and their tenancy agreement allow it.
“If your application for an animal is not successful, you may consider disputing the decision and should seek advice on the dispute process through an independent organisation that understands body corporate regulations, such as Archers, if you believe the decision is unreasonable.”
Mr Mifsud said that it is essential to be familiar with the scheme’s by-laws.
He said that common sources of strata scheme issues usually involve pets, parking, parties, passive smoking, hanging unsightly laundry from the balcony as well as the behaviour of visitors.
The Palaszczuk government is undertaking statewide consultation with landlords and the rental property industry to examine the residential tenancy laws, with the process running until the end of November.
The Minister for Housing and Public Works, Mick de Brenni, said that the consultation would look at issues such as pet ownership and how it could be made easier for landlords and tenants to agree on households keeping pets.