Unsafe decks and balconies have been the cause of a number of accidents recently, and particularly during the summer months, it’s important for landlords and owner-occupiers to ensure their outdoor areas are safe. Balconies and decks, railings and balustrades must be built according to the Building Code of Australia and Australian Standards to ensure safety for adults and children. It’s also important to inspect regularly to make sure they can take the weight of people plus features such as planters; that there is no insect damage, rot or corrosion; and that railings and balustrades are secure. For owners of apartments, decks and balconies are typically part of common property, so landlords should talk to your Owners Corporation about maintenance or safety issues. Under NSW tenancy laws, landlords must provide and maintain a rented property in a reasonable state of repair – and this includes external areas such as decks and balconies.
The Office of Fair Trading recommends carrying out a thorough maintenance check at least once a year to identify any signs of deterioration that might affect the stability or safety of the deck or balcony. Also, particularly during the holiday season, be aware of specific safety issues with small children and outside areas. Children should not be left on balconies or elevated decks on their own, and it’s also important to ensure that there are no planters, chairs or other objects that might allow them to climb over the safety railing. Your property manager would be happy to arrange for a professional builder to carry out a safety check of your decks and balconies, or carry out your own initial maintenance check based on Fair Trading’s Deck and balcony safety guide. https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/housing-and-property/building-and-renovating/after-you-build-or-renovate/deck-and-balcony-safety.