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'Significant' law change to protect child safety

02 February 2015 Elyse Perrau

Tenancy regulations in one state have been altered and now require tenants to be given “vital information” about potential hazards for children in the rental home.

Tenancy regulations in one state have been altered and now require tenants to be given “vital information” about potential hazards for children in the rental home.

According to Consumer Protection (WA), changes to the Residential Tenancy Act will come into play on 20 March 2015, and mean tenants must be given an information sheet outlining their “key rights and obligations at the beginning of a new tenancy”.

Commissioner for consumer protection Anne Driscoll said that the forms now contain important safety information related to the dangers of blind or curtain cords and swimming pools.

“Over the years there have been many deaths of children who have been strangled by looped blind or curtain cords and chains,” Ms Driscoll said.

 “In response to these tragic events, a range of product safety standards have been introduced and apply to rental properties.”

The Real Estate Institute of WA’s president, David Airey, told Residential Property Manager it had been aware of swimming pool concerns for some time and took the initiative back in October 2014 to have a similar notice on its standard residential lease.

“The health and safety of young children is a prime concern of our community and REIWA is pleased to play a role in bringing increased awareness to tenants,” Mr Airey said.

Also speaking to Residential Property Manager, a spokesperson for the Real Estate Institute of Victoria said, in regards to the law change, “It’s also important for property managers within Victoria – and indeed all states – to be aware of the need for vigilance in regard to swimming pools and safety around the home.

“In this way, the changes in WA are significant and clearly reflect community concerns.”

Metro Property Management director Leah Calnan asked the question, “Where does the responsibility of a property manager end and the consumer responsibility take over?”

“One of things I noticed was the onus on potential hazards to children. There are so many other potential hazardous; what about floor-to-ceiling glass windows, what about staircases, what about fish ponds?” Ms Calnan told Residential Property Manager

“To make even an owner responsible in highlighting potential hazards for children in a home, is that potentially going to decrease owners wanting to lease properties to children?”

Ms Calnan said if WA is heading down this path, she hopes they run courses or information sessions on the risks and potential hazards out there.

“Are they actually going to articulate what these risks are so it isn’t a free-for-all, frenzy litigation that is going to happen? That is the other part that is scary,” she said.

“I think it is just making sure everyone is aware of when these sorts of changes happen in one state that there's a possibility they will change in other states too.”

'Significant' law change to protect child safety
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