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Demand for pet-friendly apartments increases dramatically



A pandemic-induced surge in puppies and kittens is putting a premium on pet-friendly apartments in Sydney’s lower north shore

Paws for thought on no-pet policies: demand for pet-friendly apartments on lower north shore

The new must-have for apartment buyers in Sydney’s lower north shore is approval for four-legged friends.

Mary-Jane Hamer, urban living specialist at leading real estate agency Ray White Lower North Shore Group, says a dramatic shift in buyer expectations is posing a problem for some apartment blocks with legacy policies on pets.

Pet ownership has risen dramatically as a result of covid lockdowns but in the likes of Mosman, Cremorne and Neutral Bay many company-title buildings have blanket bans on keeping pets.. As the strata legislation does not apply, company title buildings are able to maintain this position. 

“Buyers today have enduring demand for car spaces, sunlight and balconies but most are seeking a pet-friendly building, of which there are few in our market,” Ms Hamer said. 

Ms Hamer says buildings that are “strictly no pets” - and even adopt the slightly less strict “you can bring your elderly pet but if it dies you can’t replace it” rule - are likely to deter about half of their prospective buyers.

A recent court case may turn these rules on their head. 

A miniature schnauzer called Angus living in the Horizon building in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, even though the owners knew the building had a no-pet policy, is at the centre of a NSW Court ruling.

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”.

Ms Hamer says apartment sellers are missing out on huge buyer demand brought on by working from home, lower interest rates and surplus cash saved by the lack of overseas holidays. 

“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 funnelled into property upgrades for owner-occupiers as well as renters deciding to buy."

“One misconception is that because borrowing is cheap it is also easy. That’s not accurate. Borrowers are having to jump through more hoops than usual to get a 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,” Ms Hamer concluded.

END

Mary-Jane Hamer, urban living specialist at leading real estate agency Ray White Lower North Shore Group, 0419191019 mary-jane.hamer@raywhite.com