Strata Windows

Rosy Sullivan

The new window safety lock legislation for strata buildings was announced in October last year. The new legislation will see residential strata buildings needing to install safety locks on all windows above the ground floor to prevent small children falling from windows. The legislation allows for two options, a safety lock that when activated will reduce the window opening to only 12.5cms and/or a strong safety screen.

The deadline for the installation of these locks, despite how important it is for the safety of all children, is not until 13 March 2018 due to the Owners Corporations only generally meeting once a year at their Annual General Meetings.  However there is nothing to stop an Owners Corporation or an individual owner commencing their compliance measures earlier than the deadline.

As yet the Strata Schemes Management Amendment (Child Windows Safety) Bill has not become law, and as such until it does there will still be some level of uncertainty as to the specifics of the level of compliance required.  It is not yet confirmed what windows will need to comply except for a statement made at the second reading of the Bill which specified:

“openable windows when the lowest edge is less than 1.7 metres above the internal floor level, and when the drop from the internal floor level to the external surface beneath the window is two metres or more.”

As with any proposal for changes or alterations of a strata scheme, the confusion lies with who is responsible for the costs of installation of the locking devices?  Mr Anthony Roberts, Minister for Fair Trading, was quoted as saying: “Individual strata schemes may only meet once a year, that means in the next four years members must agree on a course of action, fund its implementation, complete a risk assessment on all windows and then have devices installed.”

This indicates that it is the responsibility of the Owners Corporation to foot the bill of the installation costs.  Further reading of the Strata Schemes Management Amendment (Child Windows Safety) Bill supports this, in that it clarifies that Section 64A of the Bill puts the onus on the Owners Corporation to bear the costs of the installation of the window safety lock devices.

Further discussion of the practicalities appear to agree that should an owner decide to install the safety devices prior to the Owners Corporation initiating the action, the owner should be in a position to seek reimbursement from the Owners Corporation.  However, should the individual owner be responsible for any damage to the common property in their installation, then the individual owner will be financially responsible for the necessary repairs to that common property.

The Australian College of Professionals will keep you updated as the law is passed and any further information becomes available.