The laws around having a pet on your property

25 February 2020

 

So you’re getting a pair of pooches or a first-time kitty, and you’re wondering about renting, rules and neighbours.

 

There are laws around having pets in different dwellings. They are designed to protect the property, your animals, yourself and your neighbours.

 

You probably know the basics:

Property24.com points out that by the stipulations of the Animal Protection Act of 1962:

  • You are required to provide adequate light, shelter and ventilation that protects your pets from heat, cold, weather, sun, rain, dust exhaust gases or noxious fumes.
  • You are also required to provide suitable food, potable water and rest.
  • You may not restrict pets by “chains, tethers or secures […] unnecessarily or […] in such a manner as to cause that animal unnecessary suffering”.
  • If your pet sleeps outdoors, it will probably need more than a kennel as these provide limited shelter. If you’re not convinced, test it on a cold, windy or wet night or a sweltering summer’s afternoon. You may need to erect a shade cover like an awning or other secure weather protectors.

 

No, you can’t take all the stray animals in (at once)!

For the good of all, there’s a limit to the number of animals you can keep on a residential property at any given time, Property24 continues. These vary from region to region and usually apply to animals over the age of 6 months. According to Animal Land Pet Movers, it’s usually a maximum of 2 cats per apartment, 4 cats for other dwellings (e.g. house exceeding 600 square meters), 6 per farm (house on agriculturally zoned land).  For dogs, it’s about the same. You can reach out to your local council for a guide so that you’re in line with local and national law.

 

 

(Some) gated communities go well with good dogs and cats

Living closely together can be tricky, and this applies to human beings and pets alike! Cluster developments, sectional title, gated communities, security villages, estates and complexes may or may not allow animals. They may specify which pets are welcome and which aren’t, e.g. allowing cats but barring big dog breeds. If you’re a renter make sure you get everything about your animals signed in writing (in other words, include it in your contract), follow the requirements of your contract exactly, and  remember that the body corporate (which includes the owners) can change the rules at their discretion. They should provide due, written notice if this happens. “This usually results from bad experiences with irresponsible pet owners who did not sterilise their pets or confine them safely or failed to pick up faeces,” Pet Healthcare Magazine reports. “Likewise, it only takes one resident to bring in a pet whose persistent howling or barking disturbed other residents, that a “last-resort” decision was taken which affected everyone.”

Be vigilant and start looking for a suitable pet-friendly home long ahead of the time you need to move in. This applies to buying as well as renting, and “there are not nearly enough pet-friendly rental properties to meet the high demand as the number of landlords and body corporates implementing a ‘no pet’ policy rises. We’re hitting this stumbling block even on unfurnished, spacious homes with large grounds” Brendan Miller, Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty Atlantic Seaboard and City Bowl CEO, says on www.PrivateProperty.co.za.

 

What happens if you break the rules?

Renters could be legally required to move animals reported as a nuisance, penalised for contravening a contract on the issue of pets or animals, or asked to leave entirely (and legally). It can be traumatic for human and animal alike, disruptive, costly even if it doesn’t go to court, and time-consuming.

Besides being labelled an animal abuser by law, failing to comply with the Animal Protection Act of 1962’s regulations and bylaws can mean being fined R4 000, and the accused could be sentenced to prison for 12 months.

You could also be fined for your dog barking a lot.

“Excessive barking is a form of environmental noise pollution that has been proven to impair hearing, mental health, and task performance,” Business Insider reports. In addition to causing stress and stealing sleep, it can lead to a steep fine of up to R20k. If your dog barks incessantly, it needs immediate attention because it is clearly an unhappy puppy, and your neighbours are also within rights to report it to the authorities. Failure to address the issue after a written notice could lead to the fine.

 

To avoid trouble: start with prevention

Know the rules and stick to them. This includes council law, your rental contract, the body corporate rules, and local and national law.

Make sure your pets are happy – they need protection, healthcare, exercise, attention, rest and nutrition. They also need someone to pick up and compost their poop regularly and praise them. They may need a bath occasionally (and we have a guide for that) and will benefit immeasurably from affordable pet cover.

 

Speaking of pet cover, how does dotsure.co.za make pet life easier?

Life’s full of surprises and so are pets. Our pet cover will help pay your pet’s medical bills and include liability cover to help replace or repair the cost of any damages to other’s property that your pet might be responsible for*. So if Kitka scratches up the neighbour’s pup, or Sushi chews your mum-in-law’s bumper, we can help with the vet and mechanic bills…

 

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