NSW Owners Corporations must fit window safety locks on all above ground windows to protect children from falling from unsecured windows before 13 March 2018.

With the 13 March 2018 deadline approaching, Owners Corporations in New South Wales have little over a month left to comply with requirements to fit window safety locks on all above ground windows to protect children from falling from unsecured windows.

Strata regulations were introduced in 2016 that place the principal obligation on Owners Corporations to install safety locks on all openable windows that are less than 1.7 metres from the floor and 2 or more metres above the outside ground.

This obligation cannot be passed on to a lot owner or tenant, however, a lot owner may elect to install the safety locks themselves. If this occurs, the lot owner must ensure that the devices meet the legal requirements and are responsible for the cost and any damage to common property resulting from the installation.

Under the regulations, windows must be fitted with safety devices that:

  • restrict the window from opening further than 12.5cm when the device is engaged; and
  • can resist a force of up to 25 kilograms.

Windows will not need to be locked permanently (ie. if there are no children around, or to allow for cleaning), however, if the safety device can be removed, overridden or unlocked, it must also contain a child-resistant release mechanism.

Security screens, including bars or grills, may be installed as an alternative to a safety device, provided they have gaps of less than 12.5cm and are capable of resisting strong outward pressure which would prevent a child falling through. It is important to note that ordinary flyscreens will not comply with the regulations unless they are strongly reinforced.

Penalties of up to $550 per window may be issued to Owners Corporations that fail to comply with the regulations. Non-compliance may also leave Owners Corporations (and possibly individual strata committee members) open to liability for damages if insurers deny claims for injuries arising on or after 13 March 2018.

With the deadline rapidly approaching, Owners Corporations should act quickly to ensure compliance and avoid incurring penalties and possible liabilities.