Window locks must be fitted in NSW apartments – but can be removed

Following the tragic events in Bankstown recently, when two young children fell three storeys from an apartment block window, there has been a lot of discussion on Flat Chat about the new strata laws compelling owners to fit window locks.

Strata Owners Corporations have exactly one year, until March 12, 2018, to comply with the law, but there’s a lot of confusion.

In essence, the law says that if the floor of the room is 2 metres or more above the ground and the lowest level of the window opening is less than 1.7 metres above the floor, it must have a complying lock fitted.

A lock (or any other device) is compliant if it can restrict the opening so that a 125-millimetre sphere couldn’t pass through.

It also has to be capable of resisting outward force of 250 newtons and, if it is removable or can be overridden or unlocked, the mechanism must be “child resistant”.

Windows in most strata schemes are the responsibility of the owners corp and owners of ground-floor flats are no doubt whingeing that they have to contribute to the locks on upstairs residents’ windows.

By the way, you don’t need to put locks on windows that open out on to balconies. You might be 50 metres in the air but the fall will only be a few feet.

Meanwhile, we’ve been getting reports that some residents have been told a permanently fixed strip of wood or metal is the only acceptable form of restraint. This is, of course, nonsense.

It sounds like the owners’ corporations have decided to do it on the cheap since a 200mm strip of aluminium with a couple of screw holes in it will cost a lot less than a removable, child-proof lock.

Multiply the difference by all the windows above ground level in an apartment block and you can see why some owners’ corporations would favour cash over comfort.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of all this is the clear acceptance that the locking devices can and will be taken off. As long as they can’t be removed by a small child when they are in place, that’s enough.

Even the locks demonstrated on the Fair Trading videos on their website can clearly be removed with a regular key or the kind of hex key you get from IKEA.

You have to wonder how many of them will be installed then tossed in a drawer the first hot spell that we get.

The point of the exercise is to have locks there for when there are people who want and need them, rather than waiting for the first family to move into a particular unit and have them hassling the landlord to get the locks fixed. It’s all about the kids.

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