Strata window safety devices are not just another “money grab” by the Government. The devices are designed to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities that occur in young children falling out of high windows. On 22nd April, a 5 year old boy fell out of a third storey window in a Parramatta building. One month after the installation deadline.
The deadline for compliance has been and gone. The final date for compliance was the 13th March 2018. The follow on from the installation date has caused many to call the college and ask what happens now? Will strata schemes be subjected to inspections for compliance and if so are there penalties for noncompliance?
NSW Fair Trading provide information on the window safety devices and the obligations of the Owners Corporation. It stated that should the devices not be installed by the cut-off date, the owners corporation may be fined and there is potential for the individual owner to also be fined.
However, there is an issue with the ongoing compliance of the safety legislation. NSW Fair Trading have stated the following with regards to monitoring the devices:
An owners corporation is not required to monitor or enforce the use of window safety devices.
The strata scheme management laws also do not require that the devices be used at all times by the occupant. Occupants are therefore free to open their windows fully if they wish to do so. While it is up to occupants to decide when to engage devices, NSW Fair Trading strongly recommends that people use window safety devices when children are present and on all common access areas, such as stair landings.
For Strata Managers, it is important that the Owners Corporation are able to satisfy the initial requirement of having the devices installed to ensure that they are not liable for fines should NSW Fair Trading wish to conduct audits of strata schemes, however it would be fair to state, after reading the information being provided by Fair Trading, that it is not incumbent upon the Owners Corporations to conduct yearly checks to ensure the safety devices are still installed.
For Property Managers, it has already been the case that the window safety devices have been on the ingoing and outgoing inspection reports. It is highly suggested that these are checked at each of those inspections to ensure they are still installed and should they be removed throughout a tenancy, there is a responsibility for the property manager to inform the landlord and have new safety devices installed, billing the previous tenants for the reinstallation.
While we do not know how and when NSW Fair Trading will be able to conduct compliance audits on strata schemes, the Parramatta incident in April provides evidence to NSW Fair Trading that there are still buildings that have not yet complied or the devices are not necessarily being used properly.
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