How does a Body Corporate deal with pet problems in sectional title schemes?

Prescribed Conduct Rule (“PCR”) 1 deals with the keeping of pets, and states:

Keeping of animals, reptiles and birds:

  1. The owner or occupier of a section must not, without the trustees’ written consent, which must not be unreasonably withheld, keep an animal, reptile or bird in a section or on the common property.
  2. An owner or occupier suffering from a disability and who reasonably requires a guide, hearing or assistance dog must be considered to have the trustees’ consent to keep that animal in a section and to accompany it on the common property.
  3. The trustees may provide for any reasonable condition in regard to the keeping of an animal, reptile or bird in a section or on the common property.
  4. The trustees may withdraw any consent if the owner or occupier of a section breaches any condition imposed in terms of sub-rule (3).

What does a breach mentioned in (4) mean, and when can the trustees of a body corporate withdraw their consent?

Trustees must use the standard of the ‘reasonable man’ and can only withdraw their consent to the keeping of a pet if an owner breaches any of the reasonable conditions imposed by them in granting their consent. Withdrawal would be reasonable if:

  • the conditions are not being met (for example an owner keeps four dogs instead of two);
  • the pet is causing a nuisance to other owners or occupiers (for example where a dog is barking persistently); or
  • the pet is considered dangerous to other owners or occupiers (for example where an offending owner keeps a poisonous snake as a pet).

Before consent is withdrawn, the owner must be given:

  • notice of the breach;
  • an opportunity to remedy the situation;
  • a hearing where evidence is given;
  • the trustees’ must be decided by majority vote;
  • the trustees’ decision must be minuted;
  • the owner must be given written notice of the withdrawal of consent; and
  • the pet owner must be given a reasonable time to remove the pet.

If the owner refuses to remove the pet, the body corporate is not entitled to forcibly remove a pet from a person’s possession. It can approach the local SPCA to intervene and if justified implement legal process to remove the pet.

Another option is to get an adjudication order for the removal of the pet from the Community Schemes Ombud Service (“the CSOS”). In terms of section 38 of the CSOS Act it is possible that any person may make an application to the CSOS if such person is a party to or affected materially by a dispute. The Body Corporate can therefore make an application to the CSOS to declare a dispute against the owner who has kept their pet in the scheme despite the trustees having withdrawn their permission.

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