Window of opportunity as safety laws loom

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The big day, July 1, came and went with the proposed changes to the strata Act still in abeyance until November 30, as was announced this week.

However, March 13, 2018 is another date you should write on your whiteboard.  It may seem like a long way off but it’s the deadline for strata schemes to comply with NSW regulations on making all our windows child-safe.

Now, the owners corporation – that includes you, if you are a strata owner – owns the windows in all post 1974 buildings.  So every apartment owner shares a duty to comply with this law aimed at ending the 50-plus deaths of children from window falls every year.

What that means is that windows a certain height above the ground outside and the floor inside, must have a device fitted that restricts their opening to 12.5 cm.

If the window sills are more than 86 cm off the floor the locking device can be temporarily disabled so that the windows can be fully opened.

Low windows must be permanently restricted but if the sills are more than 1.7 metres off the floor, no locking device is needed. Windows on to balconies aren’t affected.

NSW Fair Trading is pushing hard to get unit blocks compliant as soon as possible and some strata professionals are recommending that you have a by-law in place not least to make sure the cost of replacing locks removed by recalcitrant residents falls back on the individual unit owners.

Yes, the sadly predictable ‘Nanny State’ comments are out there.  Most blithely ignore the fact that similar laws in New York resulted in a 96 percent reduction in deaths from window falls.

The fines for non-compliance are relatively paltry – the real penalty is the needless death of a child. That’s why Fair Trading is ramping up its “Kids Don’t Fly” campaign.

If you’ve had your AGM since March this year, you have only one more meeting before you bump up against that deadline.  Don’t wait to the last minute; the installations require a pressure test which your handyman probably won’t be able to conduct.

If you need more information, Strata Choice, one of the leading strata management companies in the country, as well as our major sponsors, has an easy to follow and informative video on their website stratachoice.com.au.  Or you try this link to Fair Trading fact sheets HERE.

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