Can you take your pet to a retirement village?

Are you allowed to bring your pet to your new home in a retirement village?
You would think the answer is yes and it usually is – but like most things, there are conditions you should know about.

Generally most villages allow you to bring a small pet with you though it often depends on the animal. A fat, lazy cat or even an ageing golden retriever should be okay, while a young, boisterous puppy may be questioned.
In other cases, you might be allowed to bring your pet with you - nobody wants to break up a relationship with your beloved family pet - but when it passes away you won't be allowed to replace it.
Why the distinction? Well my mother-in-law lives in a retirement village and was out walking her own dog. He suddenly pulled away when playfully pounced upon by another, younger animal. She fell and bumped her head badly and while it was no ones fault, it was a dangerous situation none the less.
So who makes the decision on whether pets are acceptable and which dog is okay?
Within the guidelines of the village contract the manager, often supported by representatives of the village residents committee, apply pet guidelines.
Your first step is to check the village contract and its pet policy. Some villages have a clear cut, no pets allowed policy. They are are often older, with contracts that haven't been updated for many years. It is rare for a new village not to be pet friendly.
Some people think it unfair to have pet policies at all, but retirement villages are just the same as other medium density communities, like apartment buildings, which have pet policies under strata management programs.
Most contracts have a line relating to your right to quiet, safe and uninterrupted occupation. It becomes a legal responsibility of the operator to deliver these rights to you and if pets affect your peace and quiet, then the operator is failing to deliver under the terms of the contract.
For instance a village in Queensland allowed birds as pets. But one resident's bird chirped away all day and a neighbour objected. Even though the operator supported the owner of the bird, when the matter was taken to the Consumer Tribunal it was ruled the bird had to go and the operator was fined for not delivering on its contract.
The same thing could have happened in an apartment block.
We always recommend that you talk about pet policies with existing village residents as well as the resident's committee before you buy.
It’s all part of ensuring that you age well.

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