Do you live in, own or manage a townhouse or unit block?
It’s not only important for you to provide a safe environment for children in your dwelling, it’s also law.
If you are part of a STRATA scheme please take action now.
As of 13 March 2018 all openable windows that are elevated from ground level (2 meters and above) within reaching distance of a child (less than 1.7 meters off the floor) must have window safety devices installed.
The new safety regulations mean that the window can be fully locked and that, when opened, the gap can be restricted to 12.5cm or less. This prevents little ones tumbling through open windows, which can cause serious harm or death.
The safety device you install is up to you, there are a number of options available with some flexibility in locking settings. This allows you to choose to have your window fully opened or partially opened.
As well as restricting the open window to less than 12.5cm you will need to ensure the device you purchase and install carries an effective amount of force resistance. To be compliant, your safety device needs to be able to withstand a minimum of 25 kilograms of force (which equates to 250 newtons). It is also important that the device is childproof and durable.
It is essential that you provide the option to limit the opening of a window even if you do not have children in the home. This means that should circumstances change, even temporarily, the window setting can be instantly altered to prevent accidents and falls.
This newly enforced regulation will affect all STRATA buildings including individual dwellings and communal areas. Property managers will be required to secure any opening window that meets the requirements for height from the ground and height from the floor in places like stair landings and laundry rooms.
Most types of safety devices can be affixed to the window frame or strong window bars. If you do not wish to install locks on your windows you can have bars installed (provided there are gaps less than 12.5cm). It’s important to note that flyscreens are not considered safety measures as they are easily broken or bent. If you have professional security screens able to withstand a force of 25 kilos than they would be considered compliant. See the article Kids Don't Fly for more information from the NSW Health Department.
Failure to meet these safety requirements by the deadline, 13 March 2018, will result in owners corporations being fined.
If you are renting and would like to install locks that you feel would be most suitable for the safety of your children you must write to the managing agent to get written permission before drilling.
Installing the safety device is the only legal requirement, that the devices are in use and children are correctly supervised is the responsibility of the parent or guardian overseeing care to the child at the time.
While there is no legal obligation to keep windows open to the restricted gap, however, safety and children is crucially important and restricting the opening of a window can be considered a small price to pay for the health and safety of a very precious little person.
If you are an owner in a STRATA property talk to the owner's cooperation about what action they are taking about becoming compliant.
If you wish to install window locks or grills yourself be sure they meet the aesthetic requirements of the owner's cooperation guidelines, and be willing to absorb the cost and take responsibility for the work’s sturdiness and upkeep. For those who undertake their own window safety installation, you will need to notify the owners corporation of your compliance within 7 days of work completion.
For more information visit the NSW Fair Trading website.
Peta Stewart – Certified Practicing Conveyancer