Tribunal decision forces budge
On April 12, 2023, following an earlier appeal hearing, NCAT ruled in Kary's favour, finding that rule 5, "as it applies to the resident [Kary], is unjust and harsh".
After a lengthy legal battle, B’nai B’rith Retirement Villages has pledged to be more flexible when enforcing its house rules, in light of individual tenants’ needs.
In particular, rule 5 of its Princess Gardens site in Rose Bay, which forbids any pets, other than goldfish, being kept inside units.
More than 18 months ago, David Kary – a Princess Gardens tenant since 2018 – approached village management to request rule 5 be modified, to allow him to keep two pet budgies in a cage as companion animals, as recommended in writing by his doctor, and his psychiatrist.
After receiving no for an answer, Kary – whose parents were Holocaust survivors – applied to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) last February, later submitting additional documents, including a letter to the management of Princess Gardens, written on Kary’s behalf, by the Great Synagogue’s chief minister, Rabbi Dr Benjamin Elton.
BBRV, a self-funded, not-for-profit organisation – which became a JCA member in 2012 – defended the matter, and hired a legal firm to represent them.
On April 12, 2023, following an earlier appeal hearing, NCAT ruled in Kary’s favour, finding that rule 5, “as it applies to the resident [Kary], is unjust and harsh”.
In the decision, it was also noted that Kary “is a 65-year-old man who lives alone, and suffers from multiple medical and psychological conditions, including severe depression, anxiety, and lung cancer”.
Kary – who runs the Sydney Arts Guide website – finally purchased two pet budgies late last month, and told The AJN he feels “obviously pleased” by winning the case, but said, “It never should have got to this point.
“What it all goes to show is their [BBRV’s] lack of compassion, and their rigidity,” Kary said.
“And I’m sure some people in the Jewish community would be very displeased that BBRV spent money [on legal fees] over this.
“If I didn’t have pro-bono legal advice, that [going to NCAT] wouldn’t have been possible, so I thank those who helped me.”
Responding to The AJN’s questions, BBRV CEO Robert Goldshaft said, “BBRV respects and accepts the NCAT decision in favour of Mr Kary,” adding BBRV has not used any communal funds in relation to defending the matter.
“This year is the very first time that BBRV has received an allocation from the JCA, [and] BBRV will allocate those funds towards subsidies for some of our residents.
“The BBRV board intends to explore potential changes to the Village contracts and rules, through open discussion and consultation with residents … while also upholding our legal responsibilities.”
Meanwhile, The AJN understands a resident in another BBRV facility is awaiting permission for a therapy dog to make occasional visits.