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Paws for thought on no-pet policies

By Mary-Jane Hamer

A deep dive into apartment trends.

Covid has reinforced the desire for views, sunlight, quality design, finishes and functional layouts. Across the Lower North Shore of Sydney, there’s plenty of interest and competition in the apartment market, thanks to renters buying, one-bed owners upgrading, and thousands of returning expats. But there’s a new sticking point for pandemic buyers…

Renters, expats and upsizers

The influx of returning expats has conflated the already strong demand for light and liveable lower north shore apartments. As Australia opens its door…migration will continue to drive demand for the luxury and lower north shore apartment market.

Local young professionals, who are now living and working in the same space 24 hours a day, are actively seeking to upgrade from simple one-bedders to more spacious two-bedders with ample light and an aesthetically pleasing background for those back-to-back Zoom and Teams meetings.

Renters are doing the same. The funds saved due to our inability to travel overseas, and even interstate depending on the month, is being funneled into property upgrades and renters buying. (One misconception is that because borrowing is cheap that it is also easy. That’s not accurate. Borrowers are having to jump through more hoops than usual to get the loan.)

Two-bedrooms, three-bedrooms and house-size apartments are selling strongly, but buyers are becoming more discerning when it comes to small spaces and anti-pet buildings.

The real deal-breaker

As a result there are more one-bedroom apartments for sale and for rent than any other size, and they’re proving less in demand than two-bedroom-plus spaces. But the real deal-breaker in this market is whether or not there’s room for Bella the beagle or Percy the Persian cat.

The buyer wish list of must-haves still includes the typical demand for car spaces, sunlight and balconies but it had better also be a pet-friendly building, of which there are few in our part of the world.

Precedent and popularity

Pet ownership has risen dramatically as a result of covid lockdowns. Yet, in our area, many company title buildings have blanket bans on keeping pets in their buildings. As the strata legislation does not apply, company title buildings are able to maintain this position.

If your building is one of the many in the lower north shore that are “strictly no pets” (or the slightly less strict “you can bring your elderly pet… but if it dies you can’t replace it” rule), you will likely deter about half of your prospective buyers. A recent court case may turn these rules on their head.

Ruff day in court for strata

Angus, a miniature schnauzer lived in the Horizon building in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, even though the owners knew the building had a no-pet policy. Last year, the owner took her strata building to the NSW Court of Appeal. In a unanimous ruling in October the highest court in the state struck down the ban and explained why the strata’s bylaw barring pets was oppressive.

“That is because it prohibits an ordinary incident of the ownership of real property, namely, keeping a pet animal, and provides no material benefit to other occupiers,” the court stated. A bylaw that limits the property rights of lot owners is “only lawful (valid)”, the court noted, “if it protects from adverse affection the use and enjoyment by other occupants of their own lots or the common property”.

For more market insights on lower north shore apartments, contact the Urban Living team at Ray White Lower North Shore Group.

Mary-Jane Hamer | 0419 191 019 mary-jane.hamer@raywhite.com

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