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

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withdrawn, the owner must be given: 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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