Greg Peel owned an apartment building on Townsville’s waterfront for more than a decade, but he decided it was time to live somewhere else when his request to restrain his dog on a lead was denied.
Mr Peel said he was aware of a body corporate by-law that required any approved pet to be either carried or in a carrier while on the complex’s common property.
But then his wife slipped on wet tiles while trying to hold their nine-kilogram miniature schnauzer, Lilli.
“She gathered her footing, but if she’d gone down and Lilli had gone down, they both could have been injured,” he said.
Mr Peel said he had been caught “breaking the rule” a couple of times in the basement.
“I was threatened that if I did it again, they would remove Lilli from the premises,” he said.
After the run-in, Mr Peel had a meeting with the body corporate last year.
“I said I’d like an exemption for Lilli — she’s 11 years old, she’s partially blind, she’s always lived in a [unit complex]she’s not going to cause any issues,” he said.
“A number of people said to me they weren’t happy with [the rule] but they weren’t prepared to buck the system because the body corporate ruled with an iron fist.”
Mr Peel was told there would be no exemptions.
He said the building management feared a dog on a lead could bite someone and the animal could defecate on common property.
“The body corporate said they’d given me a good hearing around my concerns,” he said.
“But really what they did was listen and just keep their own view.”
Commissioner dismisses appeal
Mr Peel then lodged an application with the Queensland Body Corporate and Community Management Commissioner (QBCCMC).
“We moved during the process because we decided it wasn’t a place we wanted to be,” he said.
In the reason for the dismissal, an adjudicator for the QBCCMC said Mr Peel was aware of the by-laws before purchasing the property.
Owner of Harcourts Kingsberry, which manages the unit complex, Ben Kingsbury would not comment on the situation.
In its response to the submission, the body corporate for the complex claimed other residents were able to manage groceries, children, suitcases while restraining their pets and they didn’t believe Mr Peel had any exceptional circumstances.
It was also stated all other owners with pet approvals complied with the conditions.
Negotiating pets in units
Real Estate Institute of Queensland chief executive officer Antonia Mercorella said the process could be a balancing act.
“A body corporate does want to create rules that are in the best interests of the [people] living in that scheme and I think safety is a vital consideration,” Ms Mercorella said.
She said, with housing prices soaring in the past two years, the industry was increasingly dealing with more disputes around pets.
“It’s a conversation we need to continue to have and I think the regulatory framework needs to be built in a way that is flexible enough that it does allow us to [evolve] as times change,” she said.
“As we evolve as a society and more of us are living in these spells [of places] it’s important that we’ve got those checks and balances in place and they’re working effectively.”
It was important to note that body corporate groups had shifted from a blanket anti-pet approach, Ms Mercorella said.
Ultimately, Ms Mercorella said anyone considering living in a strata-managed property should understand the rules.
“You need to be sure that you’re going to be comfortable and happy living under those restrictions,” she said.
But for Mr Peel, it was easier to just sell up than continue the fight.
“I like my dog more than I like the corporate body,” he said.