Obligations of Landlords - Corded Internal Window Coverings

Obligations of Landlords - Corded Internal Window Coverings

Obligations of Landlords - Corded Internal Window Coverings

What types of internal window coverings are a safety hazard for children?

Blinds and curtains with loose cords or chains can strangle young children. Since the early 1990s, at least 18 children have
tragically died in Australia this way. A child can place a loop over their head or get tangled in loose cords or chains when:
• sleeping in a cot or bed where cords or chains
are hanging;
• playing near cords or chains; or
• standing on furniture (chair, sofa, bed, table etc.) or climbing using something like an overturned toy box/crate to look out of a window that has blind or curtain cords or chains.

Do landlords have obligations to ensure internal window coverings are safe?

Yes. Under section 42(2)(c) of the Residential Tenancies Act 1987, the landlord (lessor) is required to ensure that all aspects of the premises comply with laws relating to buildings, health and safety. Product safety laws for internal window coverings
have applied in Western Australia since 23 January 2004, so landlords need to ensure that blind/curtain cords and chains supplied after this date meet the national product safety requirements.

If blinds/curtains were bought before January 2004, it is strongly recommended that landlords ensure blind/curtain cords or chains on their rental premises are safe for children. Under common law, a landlord has a duty of care to tenants, as well as anyone the
tenant invites into the property, and must ensure the premises are safe to live in. If a child dies or is injured on the rental premises as a result of a blind/curtain cord or chain injury, the landlord may be sued for negligence. Even if the tenants do not have children, a court could consider that it was reasonably foreseeable that the tenants may have children visiting the home from time to time.

How do I know if cords or chains are unsafe?

If a cord or chain for a blind or curtain hangs lower than 1.6m from the floor then it must be secured by a safety device.

Will I have to replace all my curtains and blinds?

No. Product safety laws have required that curtain/blind suppliers and shops provide window coverings with any necessary safety devices to secure loose cords or chains, installation instructions and a warning label and tag. If your blinds/curtains were
supplied from January 2004 onwards then they should meet the product safety and installation standards.

However, if any blinds/curtains bought from January 2004 onwards are unsafe, alert your tenants, advise them to immediately tie the cords or chains out of reach and move away any furniture that children might climb on to reach the cords or chains. As
soon as possible contact the supplier and Consumer Protection to discuss. If product safety standards were not met then the suppliers are required to rectify the work at no cost under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

What if the blinds/curtains were bought before January 2004?

If blinds/curtains were bought before January 2004, it is strongly recommended that you alert your tenants, advise them to immediately tie any cords or chains so they are out of reach and move away any furniture children might climb on to reach the
cords or chains. It is also recommended that you arrange to:

• buy and install cleats or tensioning devices from a hardware store or curtain and blind shop and use at least two screws to fix them in place; or
• cut the cords or chains to prevent them causing a loop if these are not essential to the working of the blind.

How can I make loose cords or chains safe?

You can buy safety devices from hardware stores or curtain and blind shops to secure loose cords and chains.

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