22 AUGUST 2020

The day her miniature schnauzer urinated in the lobby of her luxury Sydney apartment block is one of the most traumatic of Jo Cooper’s 30-plus years.

There is never a good time for a dog to wee in a lavish foyer, although Cooper insists it’s not much different to the coffee and salad spillages she has witnessed over five years of living in the award-winning, officially pet-free building. Jo Cooper figured the best option was to amend the rules.

In September 2015, only months after moving in, she tried to have the by-law changed at an extraordinary general meeting of owners. She lost that bid to change the by-law. Later that year she tried again at the AGM to change the rules, but if anything the voice of other residents seemed more resounding, with almost 90 per cent of those who voted opting against changing or repealing the by-law.

“That’s just the nature of our democracy, isn’t it?” says Dickinson, who spent a decade on the owners’ committee. “The majority of the people in the building were happy with the by-law and wished to maintain it.”

Next month, Cooper and her co-residents face off in the NSW Court of Appeal in a case that could have far-reaching ­consequences for strata residents.

“I see this [case] as a challenge to the democratic process by which owners choose to live. It just happens to be about a schnauzer,” says solicitor Stephen Goddard, who was chairman of the Owners Corporation Network for 18 years. “These proceedings are challenging the democratic processes by which strata meetings are conducted.”

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Fiona Harari