The saga of Joe – the unwanted galah

Did you know a galah can live to up to 80 years of age? Neither did we until we came across Joe.

Joe was a then 36 year old pet galah that had been hand raised since birth and been with our clients since he was eight. To say he was just a pet was a massive understatement. He was part of the family.

You all know where this is going.

Our clients bought a lot in a building that had a no pet policy. We had the inevitable argument over pets. This committee tried a new twist, which was also to no avail.

Joe had lived in a cage for his entire life. He had previously lived in a community titles scheme without issue. He was quiet and clean and didn’t squawk and annoy people.

All in all, as pets go, he was a very low risk proposition.

Not for this committee though.

At first instance the building had a no pet by-law. It scares us a tad when we start to hyperlink articles we wrote more than half a decade ago (that sounds more impressive than five years doesn’t it?), but here is where we first covered no pet by-laws.

Those rules haven’t changed. A by-law of that nature is invalid.

Our client applied to keep Joe on 13 May 2014. Follow ups were made on 11 July, 22 July and 29 July.

The silence from the committee was deafening.

Then the committee, perhaps realising what they had as a by-law wouldn’t cut it after we raised issue with it, changed the by-law to a more normal one. They limited the approval of the committee to the keeping of a dog or a cat in the by-law, apparently to mean they couldn’t approve the keeping of birds (or fish, or lizards or tortoises or in fact, anything we suppose, that wasn’t feline or canine).

To make sure they couldn’t be asked to consent to a pet request, they then doubled down at an EGM on 22 September 2014, where the body corporate made the approval for the keeping of pets a restricted issue (meaning the committee couldn’t approve any pet now).

Our clients commenced an application which ended in a conciliated outcome where the committee agreed they wouldn’t take action to kick Joe out, but it also didn’t formally approve him resulting in a Mexican stand-off. This was a result of the committee not having the ability then to approve pets.

That turned out to be a pyrrhic victory at best.

Our clients waited until the invitations to submit motions for the 2015 AGM landed and then submitted their motion for formal approval of Joe under the by-law. With the committee lobbying against them they lost 11 votes to six.

Another application was filed based on that refusal and a resounding victory resulted, again with an order that the body corporate had acted unreasonably. We never actually get sick of writing that punch line.

As the adjudicator said ‘While certain pets may not be suited to this type of environment, it is difficult to envisage a more innocuous pet than a caged bird that has lived its entire life in captivity’.

It probably also helped that Joe has lived onsite for nearly 18 months at the time of the decision and there was no evidence of any noise or other complaints.

Joe is now happily ensconced in his beachside unit, and may well be for decades.

This one actually got some media coverage in 2015 about the battle and then about the win too (although not as much for us as we would have liked) but anyway!