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Window safety device requirements 

In strata schemes 

To prevent children falling from windows, all strata buildings in NSW must be fitted with devices that enable the maximum window openings to be less than 12.5cm. Owners corporations must have devices installed on all common property windows above the ground floor by 13 March 2018. The safety devices must be robust and childproof.

Residents will still be able to open their windows. However, they will have the security of knowing that when the devices are engaged, children will be protected.

Which windows does this apply to?  

The laws apply to openable windows where the internal floor is more than 2m above the ground surface outside and within a child's reach (less than 1.7m above the inside floor) - see the diagram below.

Window safety device diagram

Further details are explained in the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016.

The window safety requirements in NSW are based on the Deem-to-Satisfy provisions D2.24 of the Building Code of Australia (BCA). The BCA is part of the National Construction Code of Australia (NCC). For more information on the BCA or the NCC, visit the Australian Building Codes Board website.

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Are there any alternatives to locks?  

The alternative is security screens, such as bars or grills on the windows so long as they have gaps less than 12.5cm. Flyscreens do not comply unless they are the reinforced security type and capable of resisting the very strong outward pressure which would prevent a child falling through.

For a handy window safety product guide, visit the Kids Don't Fly page on the NSW Health website. Information is provided in 11 languages.

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When do the window safety devices need to be installed?  

If the window safety requirements are not met by 13 March 2018, owners corporations may face fines. Leaving it to the last minute places your scheme at risk of not complying by the due date and leaves young children vulnerable to falls from windows in your scheme.

Lot owners may install a window safety device in their property at any time, letting the owners corporation know. Tenants must get written permission from their landlord before installing locks that require drilling. Landlords cannot refuse a tenant's request unless they have a very good reason.

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Will this mean the windows will never be able to open? 

No. A window lock that allows the window to be fully opened, fully closed and also locked at less than 12.5cm complies with the legislation. When children are in the unit or townhouse, or on all common access areas such as stair landings, it makes sense to engage devices at all times to prevent falls.

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How can we arrange for window safety devices in our scheme that won't cost a fortune? 

Window safety devices can be easy and cheap to install. It is not necessary to hire a consultant to do an initial assessment. Owners corporations may simply get quotes from a range of appropriately qualified tradespeople and then choose the best one.

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If the windows have grills over them, do they still need locks? 

If the grills or bars over the windows are less than 12.5cm apart in width then they may comply with the regulation. The law requires the window safety devices to be robust and childproof. Remember, ordinary flyscreens do not comply as they are not strong enough to stop a child falling through a window and can provide a false sense of security.

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How do I know if a window safety device is compliant? 

The window safety device must restrict the window opening so that a sphere with a diameter of 12.5cm or more cannot pass through when the device is engaged. The device must also be able to withstand a force of 250 newtons (which is equal to 25 kilograms of force).

You should check the labelling to determine if the window safety device is complaint with these requirements. If the label on the window safety device is unclear, contact the seller or manufacturer for more information.

Do I need a certified professional to install the window safety device? 

No, the owners corporation does not need to hire a consultant to do an assessment for the safety devices and can arrange for a suitably qualified tradesperson to install the devices.

However, an owner or owners corporation with specific concerns about the impact of installing window safety devices on their individual lots may wish to consult an independent building contractor.

As a lot owner, do I need to obtain permission to install a window safety device in my own lot? 

Although the owners corporation has principal responsibility for the installation of window safety devices, lot owners have the right to install window safety devices themselves.

However, lot owners would need to pay for the costs involved and must make sure the devices meet the legal requirements. Lot owners must notify the owners corporation within 7 days after completion of the installation. Lot owners who install devices are responsible for any damage to common property from the installation.

Can the installation of window safety devices be delegated to each individual lot owner? 

The owners corporation can adopt a common property rights by-law which confers the right and obligation to install and maintain any locking or safety device to individual lot owners.

The owners corporation can also consider adopting the model by-laws located in Schedule 3 of the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2015. The model by-laws allow individual lot owners to install and repair window safety devices in their own lot without obtaining consent from the owners corporation. Any locks installed this way must be maintained by the individual lot owner.

Information for manufacturers and suppliers  

Manufacturers and suppliers should ensure that products are clearly labelled to provide consumers with information that the product has been tested to meet the required standards.

Information for building professionals  

The window safety device standards can be found in clause 30 of the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016, and are based on NCC requirements that were introduced in 2013. The NCC requirements apply to all openable bedroom windows in residential buildings, including hotels, motels and for all windows in early childhood centres.

Building professionals are encouraged to refer to the Advisory Note: Protection of Openable Windows released by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB). The advisory note provides guidance material to assist in interpreting the NCC.

Are window safety devices included in the Tenancy Condition Report? 

Landlords and tenants entering into a new tenancy agreement must use an up-to-date Residential Tenancy Condition Report which lists window safety devices. Tenants and landlords are encouraged to check if the condition report matches the condition of the window safety device on the premises. If the window safety device is not working, the landlord must organise for repairs to be undertaken as soon as possible. You can download the new condition report from the Forms page.

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Is an owners corporation required to monitor the use of the window safety devices?  

An owners corporation is not required to monitor or enforce the use of window safety devices. The strata scheme management laws also does not require that the devices be used at all times by the occupant.

Occupants are therefore free to open their windows fully if they wish to do so. While it is up to occupants to decide when to engage devices, NSW Fair Trading strongly recommends that people use window safety devices when children are present and on all common access areas, such as stair landings.

My window forms part of a swimming pool barrier, do the window safety requirements still apply? 

If you have windows that form part of a pool barrier, the window must have a locking device or a security screen that enables the maximum opening to be less than 10cm.

If it does not satisfy this requirement, you will need to install a locking device or security screen that reduces the gap to 10cm or less. Locking devices and security screens can be purchased from your local hardware store. Make sure you also seek advice from your local council, accredited private certifier or licensed builder. More information on swimming pool safety requirements can be found on the Pool fencing requirements webpage.

Where can I get more information?  

If you are a renter, go to the Asking to make an alteration page for information about making minor changes to your home including installing window locks.

If you are a landlord, go to Alteration requests from your tenant for more information.

If you own a strata unit, more information about your rights and responsibilities is available from the Repairs and maintenance in a strata scheme page.

If you need more details about the laws, you can refer to the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 or call us on 13 32 20.

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