We have been asked the following questions regarding window locks legislation NSW by a LookUpStrata member:
Q: What types of window locking devices are being installed in strata buildings to comply with the new window locks legislation NSW?
The following responses have been received from members of the strata community. If you have any information to add, please include your thoughts in the comments below.
Clare Dominello, on behalf of Mr Dieb P. Khoury of Benjamin & Khoury Solicitors has supplied an introduction to the topic – window locks legislation NSW.
NSW Fair Trading say: ‘Each year, around 50 children fall from windows or balconies in Australia. Many suffer serious injuries. Sometimes these falls are fatal….’
Have we done enough with the new reforms with our windows and balconies? By 13 March 2018 By-laws had to be compliant. Owners Corporations in NSW were required by law to have window safety devices installed on all above ground windows, both inside windows eg: within your apartment or outside windows eg: Common Areas, gym areas, etc.
Requirements for Window safety and devices for the news window locks legislation NSW
As from March 2018, to help keep our families and friends safe, all Strata Buildings in NSW were required to have fitted, MUST have had fitted as per the new requirements, window devices that allow the window to be locked at 12.5cm when the device is engaged.
The device when activated will not allow the window to open fully. When the device is not activated your window can still open and close fully.
Owners Corporations are responsible for the Common Property they must have safety window devices installed on all common property windows after 13 March 2018. These are windows that are above the ground floor. They must stop the window opening more than 12.5 cm. The safety devices must be child proof and withstand wear and tear.
Can I still open my window fully?
You can still open your windows fully and leave your windows open. As an aid to stop children from falling from windows you have the peace of mind to know that when the window locks are engaged, children are protected from falling out of the window.
Please ensure that your window device is fitted properly. If the window device is loose and not doing the job it should be doing, you and or your strata could be facing non-compliance issues. This is a serious issue and not to be taken lightly. Penalties will be imposed for breaches if the new reforms have not been meet.
Should you need assistance with By-laws and compliance our Principal Solicitor and Attorney Dieb P. Khoury has over 40 years’ experience in this area and can assist you.
Does the lock have to be on the window? Are there any alternatives?
Alternatively, it is possible to consider security screens, bars or grills on the windows. They must not have a gap bigger than 12.5cm. This is the alternative to not having the safety devices installed on the windows.
Remember: Flyscreens are not security screens.
How do I know which window this applies to?
A window within a child’s reach which is less than 1.7 m above the floor and the floor is more than 2 m above the outside ground must have a window safety device.
Is there a time frame for when the locks must be installed?
The deadline for window locks legislation NSW was 13 March 2018.
If the window safety requirements have not been met, there is a penalty.
The Owners Corporation in the first instance will face fines, then lot owners will face fines depending on the window’s position and the reason for the breach.
Do CrimSafe screens comply with the window locks legislation NSW for apartments.
Anthony Shakar, ASQB Window Safety provides the following information:
Answer: Fly screens are not security screens and would not pass this pressure test, however to date, we have not had a security grill screen product such as the brand mentioned fail this test.
Window Child Safety Compliance requires that an openable window 2 metres above ground level and then, with a sill located 1.7 metres or less from the internal floor of the unit, be restricted to a maximum opening of 1.25MM whilst children are in the apartment and with a standard outward pressure test of 250 Newton force.
If a window should have a security grill attached then we would apply the same pressure force test on the security grill. It stands to reason (even though it is not the actual window) if it passes the same pressure test as applied to the window restrictive locking devise, a child could not force the security screen open.
Pete Berney, Solutions In Engineering provides the following information:
Solutions in Engineering have been fitting Window Child Safety Devises for over 2 years now. We researched the legislation, purchased and tested many varieties of devices and consulted child services and the Fire department before settling on the keyed lockable devises we currently use.
The issue is not so much the device as is the logistics of organising and gaining access and then obtaining proof that the device was fitted and tested to 250 newtons. We take a photo of every window when it reaches the prescribed newton force. And we came up with providing a certificate of compliance for the building once every open-able window had been tested.
A word of advice to Strata Managers and Executive Committees – do not leave this up to the individual unit owners to do. You will get varying degrees of competency and quality with no record of compliance. It is the Owners Corporations responsibility that all open-able windows be compliant as windows are considered common property for maintenance purposes under section 62 of the strata management Act.
Strata Lawyers have talked about writing By-laws to circumvent this but to no avail as you cannot contract out of a legislative requirement.
Also consider your insurance, what would happen on the advent of a disaster where the owners fitted the lockable devices themselves, ask your insurer what the likely ramifications would be verse having all devices fitted by a reputable firm for the whole building and signed off on as being compliant.
Unfortunately, a child will fall from an “alleged compliant window” in the years to come and the proceeding court case will set a precedent for the cases that follow. An Executive Committee member should greatly consider their exposure to this risk when choosing the method for which to aim to mitigate Window Child Safety Compliance.
You may also be interested in watching this Strata SnapShot series interview featuring Peter Berney, Solutions in Engineering – NSW Strata Window Safety
Lia de Sousa, Whitbread Insurance Brokers has responded regarding the insurance issues raised by Peter Berney above:
We would suggest that the comments from Solutions in Engineering represent an appropriate risk mitigation approach to the matter of complying with NSW Window and Balcony Safety regulations.
The most important factor to consider in relation to the Strata Insurance coverage is that all reasonable care is taken either by the Owners Corporation or Lot Owners, to satisfy the relevant window locks legislation NSW regulations.
Although there is no minimum standards as to the type of locks being installed, we recommend you refer to the following guides provided by the NSW State Government:
This article is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of personal advice. Please contact Whitbread Associates Pty Ltd ABN 69 005 490 228 Licence Number: 229092 trading as Whitbread Insurance Brokers for further information or refer to our website – www.whitbread.com.au or contact us on 1300 424 627.
I live by myself and don’t ever have small children inside my townhouse. Why has the body corporate contacted me about installing child proof window locks on my windows?
Pete Berney, Solutions In Engineering provides the following response to this question:
All strata schemes that contain residential lots where there are openable windows above 2 metres from the ground and then, if less than 1.7m from the internal floor must comply with the window locks legislation NSW. If your Townhouse is part of a Strata Scheme and has openable windows as I’ve described, then the answer is ‘yes, your townhouse must comply’.
If you have good quality security screens such as Amplimesh or Crimsafe already fitted on your windows, they will suffice as we have not had any fail our pressure test (250 newton force). You have mentioned that your windows already have locks and keys fitted. This could mean your Townhouse doesn’t require new devices; however, first you must ensure that the windows are restricted to less than 125mm openings and for best practice, the window won’t open when a force of 250 newtons (equivalent to 25.5kgs) is applied.
The fact that no children live in or even visit your Townhouse is not relevant, as it’s not about the individual owner, it’s about the Owners Corporation’s responsibilities. This is because windows in a strata scheme are considered common property. Once your locks have been confirmed as being compliant, or you’ve had a new device fitted then the good news is that when children are not present, you can have the windows unlocked to allow for ventilation. However, if children are present they must be locked again.
As for allowing a stranger to access your strata home – Under section 122 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (NSW), ‘An owners corporation for a strata scheme may, by its agents, employees or contractors, enter on any part of the parcel of the scheme for the purpose of carrying out… work required or authorised to be carried out by the owners corporation in accordance with this Act (including work relating to window safety devices and rectification work carried out under Part 11)’. In saying that, your Strata Manager and/or Strata Committee should have sent you information about the contractor including their experience, expertise, insurances, licenses, etc.
In summary – First, check to see if your existing locks will be compliant with window locks legislation NSW. If so, inform your Strata Manager straight away. The manager should then request that the contractor check the locks are compliant. Failure to do so puts the management company at risk in the advent of a fall.
Secondly, ask for the contractor’s details and insurance certificates and inquire about what happens and who pays in the advent of an accident within your Townhouse.
Finally, be happy that you need do nothing more and you’ve helped ensure your Strata Scheme is complaint with the with this piece of legislation, therefore minimising the risk of litigation down the track and helping to protect the lives of children living in or visiting your Strata Scheme.
Jeff Schultz, Express Glass warns there are a lot of cheap devices on the market (although being compliant with window locks legislation NSW) they are removable and can cause long-term compliance issues. Express Glass have a Handy Guide on Locks Available in the Market. If you are interested in obtaining a copy of the booklet, just email Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrew Webster, Australian Child Window Safety sent in the following information about window locks legislation NSW:
As you are aware, the NSW laws have changed in regards to windows on strata and rented properties. The law states that if you fall into the bracket of their definitions the window needs to be restricted so a 125mm sphere cannot be passed through the opening at a force of 25Kg, or if correct screens are installed they must withstand the 25Kg force.
There are many products out there to overcome this issue.
We use some of the following products:
Venlock, Remsafe Window Restrictor, Whitco Vent Lock, Whitco Restricted Winders, Kidscreen.
These products can be supplied and installed starting from $45 per window.
The restrictors can be installed by residents, but be warned. They need to be correctly installed and tested.
ACWS can perform a test with a calibrated digital force meter and supply an installation and testing certificate to provide to your insurance company.
A lot of the “fly by nighters” are installing these products and not performing the testing which can leave you a little bit vulnerable with insurance companies in the event of something happening. As the new laws state the window must withhold the 25Kg force.
We are more than happy to provide a free quote to those who still need to comply with the window locks legislation NSW.
Anthony Montibeler, Director at Norwest Strata Management has contributed this information from a Strata Management point of view:
We can proudly state that 99% of our Owners Corporations are now fully compliant with the new legislation thanks to the efforts of ASQB Window Safety.
Anthony and his team have been fantastic and fully understand the requirements of the window locks legislation NSW. They issue an installation certificate for each lot to state that it complies along with another certificate to state that the Scheme complies once they have installed every lock required.
They have been able to cater for every window they have encountered. Different windows have different requirements so it is best to get the professionals onsite first to check the windows so they can provide the right product for the application.
As Strata Managers we found a benefit to having the Owners Corporation agree to do the whole complex rather than leaving it up to the individual owners to carry out & provide a compliance certificate for their lot only.
Question: Two lots in our building have not cooperated with the fitting of child window safety devices. Can our building still get a compliance certificate for the window locks legislation NSW, excluding these lots or are we able to enter and fit without their permission?
Leanne Habib, Premium Strata answers with the following:
It is arguable whether section 65 / new Section 122 may be used, as the entry required is not really an emergency per se. We feel you would need to obtain orders for access from NCAT instead.
Usually, we would have advised the scheme to implement a by-law regarding the requirement for access, liability, prohibition on malicious damage, tampering etc. prior to having engaged a contract to fulfil the requirements for complying with window locks legislation NSW.
Is the installation of window locks an admin or capital works fund expense?
Leanne Habib, Premium Strata response with the following information:
The window lock installation would NOT be a recurrent expense but rather a one-off expenditure:
Section 79 Estimates to be prepared of contributions to administrative and capital works funds
- An owners corporation must, not later than 14 days after the constitution of the owners corporation and at each annual general meeting after that, estimate how much money it will need to credit to its administrative fund for actual and expected expenditure:
- to maintain in good condition on a day-to-day basis the common property and any personal property vested in the owners corporation, and
- to provide for insurance premiums, and
- to meet other recurrent expenses.
Recurrent expenses would include such regular expenses as insurance, water charges, electricity charges, carpet cleaning, lawn mowing services and the like and minor expenses relating to maintenance of the common property.
- An owners corporation must, at each annual general meeting, estimate how much money it will need to credit to its capital works fund for actual and expected expenditure:
- for painting or repainting any part of the common property which is a building or other structure, and
- to acquire personal property, and
- to renew or replace personal property, and
- to renew or replace fixtures and fittings that are part of the common property, and
- to replace or repair the common property, and
- to meet other expenses of a capital nature.
Expenses of a capital nature would include expenses in relation to major repairs or improvements to the common property or personal property of the owners corporation, such as replacement of roofing, guttering or fences and the like.
Jeff Gough, Liverpool Glass Company gives you an idea on how much installation costs:
We supply & install window locks for $110 for the first one (per tradesman) as part of the traveling component. $55 for every lock installed whilst onsite after the first on the same day.
E.g. 10 units with 5 windows each = 50 windows x 2 tradesmen
2 @ $110
48 @ $55
Total = $2860.00 (inc GST)
This is the window lock they recommend, which comes in both white and black.
Once fitted, why is maintenance of window locks important for continued compliance with window locks legislation NSW
Anthony Shakar, ASQB points out why Annual Compliance Checks are important:
Once a fall prevention device is attached to a window, it becomes a fixture and part of common property. As a result, the owners’ corporation is responsible for maintaining all fall prevention devices to a standard required by legislation.
Over time, child window safety devices can fail to work effectively causing a window to become non-compliant. The most efficient and effective way to ensure all devices remain in good working order is to carry out an annual compliance check. This will enable any faulty devices to be regularly identified, and rectified, whilst also maintaining a detailed record for the building, thereby minimising any risk.
Maintaining a safe environment for young children is paramount, so it is important that devices are regularly tested and maintained to ensure their effectiveness. Doing so will prevent any serious injuries from occurring, and will ultimately save lives.
How Can a Window Become Non-compliant?
It can be hard to monitor the way in which fall prevention devices are being used by the occupants of individual dwellings, therefore highlighting the importance of carrying out a regular audit. The following are some of the most common ways a window may become non-compliant:
- Misuse of a device, leaving it unable to operate as intended
- Removal of a device, leaving the window unrestricted
- Damage to device, leaving it unable to operate effectively
- Missing keys, leaving the child window safety devices non-compliant
What Does a Window Compliance Check Involve
- The assessment of each window safety device throughout the property, as well as the general condition of each affected window. Each window safety device will be checked in accordance with the Strata Schemes Management Regulations – Child Window Safety.
- Updated Certification issued for each unit. This will include detailed photos for reference.
- If required, on the spot maintenance/ replacement of non-compliant window safety device (time permitting)
Where can you go for more help?
Looking for a window lock specialist in your area? Search within our Strata Services Directory in the category window lock specialists for the best list of contacts available.
This article is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.