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Sydney Couple win Two-Year Battle to move Dog into Apartment Block

Posted 04 July 2015

Category: Strata

Designer dog Oscar Wylde has become the pin-up pet for animal-loving apartment dwellers everywhere after winning his two-year legal battle to be allowed to move into one of Sydney’s most prestigious buildings.

His owners, Simon Jordan and Bernie Coates, have lived in the internationally-renowned, heritage-listed Wylde Apartments in Potts Point for five years and hailed it a victory for common sense.

The three have become the touchstone for apartment residents denied the chance to keep a pet by building bylaws.

“We’ve now being approached by people in other apartment buildings that don’t have pets asking us how we did it,” Coates says.

“We always try to help them. We just believe that people living in apartments should have the same opportunity to own a pet as people in houses.”

Jordan agrees. “There’s been so much research done about how keeping pets improves human health, decreases isolation, strengthens communities and, not least, increases property values in buildings that are pet-friendly,” he says.

“So it’s bizarre that some buildings don’t allow pets. We’re now trying to break down the barriers against them.”

The couple applied to the board running the distinctive, 1950s Aaron Bolot-designed block for permission to keep a dog. The bylaws of the co-operative-titled building were complicated and vague, neither explicitly permitting pets, nor banning them.

There was already one dog who’d been secretly smuggled into the building, and a couple of covert cats. Jordan, 40, a community service consultant, and Coates, 65, a community regeneration consultant, backed up their argument with a dossier of information about the benefits of keeping animals in apartments.

After a postal ballot of all owners, the refusal of their application, its overturning on legal advice, more legal opinion, intense lobbying and a second ballot, the pair finally won permission. They picked a puppy, named it Oscar Wylde, and moved him in.

Their lawyer, David Bannerman from Bannerman Lawyers, says if an apartment building doesn’t have a clearly stated position on pets and neither bans nor permits them, a challenge can be successful.

“If a building has made valid rules to prohibit animals, then there may be little chance in those circumstances to have pets,” he says. “But when the rules are vague and no one understands them, then there can be openings there. It’s about what do the details hold, and what can you press for? These guys had a good position, especially as other people in the building had pets.”

Cavoodle Oscar – a Cavalier King Charles spaniel and miniature poodle cross – has (mostly) won the hearts of his neighbours, who regularly dog-sit and take him out for walks and coffee. The building now also has a comprehensive policy on the management of pets, overseen by an elected pet committee. The trio couldn’t be happier.

“It was a lot of work, and a lot of discussion, including one person’s idea of having a $10,000 pet bond!” Jordan says. “But we always tried to keep it amicable, as you live with your neighbours. And Oscar is a very popular dog now.”

Author: Sue Williams
Date: 04/07/2015
Source: SMH
Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: Domain

Sue Williams

Published 04 July 2015