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Posted 14 March 2022
There are certain provisions in the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (“SSMA”) in relation to assistance animals that an owners corporation or lot owner should be aware of. Sections 139(5) & (6) of the SSMA provide in effect that:
Given the wording used, an NCAT order invalidating an infringing by-law is not required and an aggrieved party could simply take the position that the by-law has no effect. However, given the potential exposure to liability and costs, an application for orders clarifying the position would be prudent.
A recent NCAT decision, Trustees of Catholic Aged Care Sydney v Murphy  NSWCATCD 46, has considered previous authorities and clarified NCAT’s approach to determining whether an animal is an assistance animal in the sense of the DDA. Key findings include:
It seems clear that, although not limited to dogs, let alone guide dogs or hearing dogs, in order for an assistance animal to be outside the scope of a by-law which would otherwise prohibit the keeping of the animal:
The recent NCAT decision of The Owners – Strata Plan 36965 v Alexander  NSWCATAP 407 confirmed that an animal does not need to be trained by an animal training organisation or certified by a government agency in order to be considered an assistance animal. Furthermore, it was confirmed that an ordinary individual can train an animal to become an assistance animal.
We have considerable experience in relation to assistance animals in strata schemes and can assist if you require advice in relation to this issue.
***The information contained in this article is general information only and not legal advice. The currency, accuracy and completeness of this article (and its contents) should be checked by obtaining independent legal advice before you take any action or otherwise rely upon its contents in any way.