Safety and security

Window and balcony safety

In NSW, all residential strata buildings must be fitted with window safety devices so that the maximum window opening can be limited to less than 12.5cm. The devices must be able to withstand a force of 250 newtons (which is equal to 25 kilograms of force), and if the device can be unlocked or disengaged it must have a child resistant mechanism.

Before entering into a tenancy agreement, tenants should check the window safety devices of the premises during the physical inspection and on the condition report. If the window safety device is damaged or missing, tenants should notify the landlord as soon as possible.

There is no obligation for landlords to monitor or enforce the use of window safety devices.

Visit the window and balcony page for more information.

Swimming pools

If the property you are renting has a swimming pool, a tenant needs to check that the pool fence is in good, working condition. Landlords must meet the standards in the Swimming Pools Act 1992. This requires most pools to be surrounded by a fence that separates the pool from the house.

Visit the Swimming pool register website for more information.

Smoke alarms

By law, at least one smoke alarm should be installed in a hallway outside a bedroom or other suitable location in each storey of a rented home. Tenants are not allowed to remove or interfere with smoke alarms, without a reasonable excuse. Tenants are responsible for replacing the batteries and testing the device. This should be done once a year.

Visit the Fire and Rescue NSW website or call the Smoke Alarms Helpline on 1300 858 812 for more information.

Fire safety

We recommend that tenants have a fire safety checklist to help keep their home fire safe. Visit the Fire & Rescue NSW website, for information on fire escape plans and fire safety fact sheets.

Visit the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) website to download a comprehensive guide on selecting, installing and operating domestic solid fuel heaters.

Gas water heaters

The Australian Gas Association recommends that all gas water heaters are serviced regularly by approved service agents. Always ensure:

  • the bathroom and kitchen heaters have unobstructed ventilation
  • heater flue pipes are free from all restrictions and holes
  • there is no evidence of the heater creating soot deposits
  • there are no signs of discolouration on or around the heater and flue.

Contact the Master Plumbers Association of NSW on 1800 424 181 for more information.

Security

Landlords must provide and maintain locks or security devices to make sure that the premises are reasonably secure. What is reasonably secure will vary in different situations.

A landlord or tenant can change or add locks or other security devices during the tenancy with the consent of the other party, or if it is a reasonable excuse to do so. Reasonable excuses for altering, removing or adding a lock or other security device without consent are:

  • in an emergency
  • to comply with an order of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal
  • where a co-tenant’s tenancy was terminated
  • where a tenant or occupant was prohibited from accessing the property by an interim, provisional or final Apprehended Violence Order (AVO).

A copy of the changed lock or other security device will need to be given to the other party within 7 days, unless agreed otherwise.

Changing locks or security devices without consent or without a reasonable excuse is an offence and a breach of the tenancy agreement.

Tenants should communicate their intention to change the locks with their landlord or agent where possible. The tenant will need to pay for the cost of the new locks.

For information relating to domestic violence and tenancy, see the Domestic violence in a rented property page.

Rural properties and dams

Drowning accounts for around 35-40% of all child farm deaths, with farm dams being the most common risk.

Visit the Farmsafe website for information on how to protect children living or visiting farms.

Rainwater tanks

If a rainwater tank is being used, it’s important that the water is free of harmful microorganisms or harmful levels of chemicals. Good quality water depends on proper maintenance of the rainwater tank and catchment area such as the roof and gutters if the tank is connected to the roof.

Before renting out a property the landlord should ensure that the tenant is informed that rainwater is the source of drinking water and that maintenance responsibilities have been discussed.

Visit the NSW Health website for more information on good rainwater tank practice.

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