ISSUE 137 - OCTOBER 2016
IN THIS ISSUE...
GET READY FOR SUMMER
As the days grow longer and temperatures rise, it’s time to make sure that your home and investment properties are ready for you and your tenants to enjoy summer in comfort and safety.
As we start to spend more time outdoors, it’s important to ensure that balconies, decks, gardens and pools are safe and fit for purpose, as well as maintaining air-conditioning, fly screens and security screens that will see more use as the weather gets warmer.
Is Your Swimming Pool Safe?
Drowning is a leading cause of preventable death in children under 5 years of age, with the majority of incidents happening in backyard pools. In 2012, the Swimming Pools Act 1992 was amended to improve safety requirements for swimming pools and spa pools, and the Swimming Pool Register and Compliance Certification was introduced. In April this year, it became a legal requirement that all new residential tenancy agreements for properties with a swimming pool or spa pool had to include a valid certificate of compliance.
This does not apply to strata schemes or community schemes with more than two lots as they should already be compliant. If your rental property has a pool or spa pool, it’s your responsibility to ensure it meets safety standards, is registered and is certified. If this is not already the case, you can find safety checklists and information on accredited certifiers at https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/housing-and-property/building-and-renovating/pools-and-pool-safety/swimming-pools-and-spas.
Water health is also an important consideration, as waterborne viruses and bacteria are common if filtration or heating equipment is not working properly or chemical balances are incorrect.
Keeping It Cool
Reverse cycle air-conditioning units and ducted air-conditioning systems add value to a property and enhance the lifestyle of those living there, but they can also cause problems if not properly maintained. Blocked fans and vents, mould and bacteria growth and dust build-up can all turn a benefit into a health hazard. In an investment property, maintenance of heating and cooling systems is the responsibility of the landlord, and property owners can be liable for compensation claims if lack of maintenance results in a fire, allergies or other problems.
Regular maintenance is also a preventative measure against incurring expensive repairs on the system components. An airconditioner that is regularly serviced will be more energy efficient and will usually also be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. Most air-conditioning suppliers offer options for annual servicing or regular maintenance to keep the system working to its optimum capacity.
Staying Safe Outdoors
Under the NSW Tenancy Laws, the landlord must provide premises that are in a reasonable state of repair and are reasonably secure. This includes ensuring that decks are in good condition without splitting planks or rotten plies , and balconies are safe with high enough safety rails and stable supports to accommodate a reasonable number of people. Winter storms and rain, insect activity and heavy loads such as planter boxes, can all affect the integrity of decks and balconies. Fair Trading NSW has issued a Deck and Balcony safety guide, available at: https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/housing-and-property/building-and-renovating/after-you-build-or-renovate/deck-and-balcony-safety.
For rented properties, we recommend a Licensed Builder carries out a safety check on external structures and undertakes any required repair work to ensure they are safe.
Each year, around 50 children fall from windows or balconies in Australia, with a greater number of incidents occuring in the warmer months. Of particular importance is that doors opening to balconies have working locks so that children can’t access them without supervision, and that balconies have balustrades that comply with Australian safety standards. In addition, new laws for the installation of window safety devices on all above ground windows in strata buildings will come into force in 2018. Under the new laws, windows above ground that can be reached by a child must be able to be locked at 12.5cm open. An alternative is to install grills or bars that are no more than 12.5cm apart or safety screens (not normal fly screens) that are certified to withstand the pressure of a child’s weight. In consultation with your Strata Manager, owners of strata properties may wish to install these safety devices ahead of the 2018 deadline.
Smoke Alarms Still Important in Summer
There is a house fire in Australia approximately every 26 minutes – during the summer as well as the winter. Having the correct number of properly placed and working smoke alarms in rental properties is the responsibility of the landlord. For an annual fee of under $100, specialist companies such as Smoke Alarms Australia will carry out an annual full service on smoke detectors, checking, replacing batteries and installing new alarms if required, as well as ongoing maintenance throughout the year, and will issue a compliance certificate.
Get Your Garden in Top Shape
After the recent high winds and storms, it’s likely that many gardens have suffered and could do with a professional tidy-up. In particular, landlords need to clear any debris from gardens, such as fallen branches, and repair damage to fencing or pergolas. Just a few hours work by a professional gardener or handyman will get the garden back in shape and avoid risk of injury to tenants, so you can look forward to a relaxed summer.
Ensure your swimming pool or spa pool complies with safety regulations, is listed
Use a professional pool cleaner to carry out a thorough service & set up regular maintenance.
Have your decks and balconies checked for safety by a Licensed Builder and repair
Ensure access doors to balconies have appropriate locks & install window locks
Arrange an annual air-conditioner service and ongoing fire alarm maintenance service.