New rules in Western Australia allow tenants to secure their furniture to the walls of their rental home to create a child-safe environment.
Since 2001, on average, one child dies each year in Australia from toppling furniture, and many more suffer serious injuries.
The changes to the Residential Tenancies Act give tenants the green light to fix furniture to their walls, and landlords can only object to it in limited circumstances.
Before this law change, tenants had to get their landlord’s permission to anchor furniture.
Under the new rules, tenants still have to submit a request form, but a landlord can only refuse it under limited circumstances, such as the building being heritage listed or if there is asbestos in the walls.
However, tenants are required to repair any damage to the walls at the end of their tenancy.
The trigger to this law change came after 21-month-old Reef Kite died after a chest of drawers crushed him in his family rental home in 2015. The inquest into the toddler’s death uncovered that the landlord had refused a request to secure the furniture, which led to the coroner recommending this law change.
“A small amount of damage to a wall which can easily be repaired is a small price to pay for ensuring the safety of children living in a rental home and preventing a possible death,” Consumer Protection commissioner David Hillyard said.
“Tenants need to be aware of these new rights, and they should let Consumer Protection know if their request is being denied so we can check if the property owner’s refusal is justified.
“If not, we will take a dim view of property owners and/or their agents who may face either prosecution or disciplinary action if they do not comply with this new law.”