A reminder that from 13 March 2018, owners corporations are under a duty to ensure compliant window safety devices are installed at their expense for each of the following windows in a scheme containing residential lots:
- a window within the meaning of the Building Code of Australia, and
- that can be opened, and
- the lowest level of the window opening is less than 1.7m above the surface of any internal floor that abuts the wall of which it forms part, and
- that internal floor is 2m or more above the surface of any external surface below the window that abuts the wall, and
- the window is on common property to which access can be gained from a residence in a strata scheme or a window on any part of the building that is part of a residence.
What is a “complying window safety device”
A “complying window safety device” is a screen, lock or any device which:
- is capable of restricting the opening of a window so that a sphere having a diameter of 125mm or more cannot pass through the window opening, and
- is capable of resisting an outward horizontal action of 250 newtons, and
- has a child resistant release mechanism, in the case of a device that can be removed, overridden or unlocked.
Accordingly, a screen of the type usually referred to as a security screen would satisfy the requirement if it has the above three characteristics.
The owners corporation’s obligations
The owners corporation is responsible for ensuring that compliant devices are installed on all common property windows to which the legislation applies by the deadline. An owners corporation can be fined if they fail to do so.
The owners corporation’s duty is absolute and ongoing. An owners corporation should ensure from time to time that it verifies that devices installed remain in place, where required, and that they continue to operate only within the permitted limitations.
Lot owners may install compliant devices
A lot owner may install a complying window device on any window in the owner’s lot to which the legislation applies. However an owner must notify the owners corporation within seven days of fitting the device. The lot owner must install the devices in a competent and proper manner and repair any damage done to the common property when doing so. The device must not be of a type (or installed in a manner) which is not in keeping with the appearance of the building.
What should owners corporations do to ensure they are compliant by the deadline?
Given that the deadline for compliance is less than 12 months away, owners corporations may wish to ensure that window safety device compliance is an agenda item at their next meeting.
The owners corporation should determined which windows in the scheme are impacted by the requirements. A child window safety report can be obtained to assist with this determination.
The owners corporation will then need to obtain quotes for the work to be completed. Currently there is no requirement for the owners corporation to use accredited installers or have the windows or locks certified. Appropriately qualified tradespeople may do the installation.
The owners corporation must arrange for the work to be carried out by 13 March 2018.