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Blind cord compliance requirements

Discussion in 'Property Management' started by quop, 6th Sep, 2016.

  1. quop

    quop Well-Known Member

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    I've been advised the following by my PM in relation to blind cords in my IP:

    under the Residential Tenancies Act, I am required to have them made compliant at the beginning of every new lease and each lease renewal. The blinds have not been tagged as compliant and this is why they are required to be made compliant through a lisenced company as they all need to be tagged and the I must provide a certification certificate to prove it is compliant.
    Is this all correct? I'm aware of the need to install cleats/tension devices (which are in place), but am less clear about the tagging requirements and especially the requirement to use a licensed company and provide certification. My search/browse of the Act doesn't suggest this to be the case, so I'll pose the question to the PC brains trust/more experienced/knowledgeable voices. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Joynz

    Joynz Well-Known Member

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    I think it's a load of rubbish.

    The 'need' for a compliance cert. I mean, not the need for cords to be made safe.

    Just another attempt to on sell services.
     
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  3. Big Will

    Big Will Well-Known Member

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    I cant see anything for certification of being safe per lease, can see that they need to be compliant or you as the landlord maybe sued for negligence.

    Obligations of landlords - corded internal window coverings

    Do landlords have obligations to ensure internal window coverings are safe?
    Yes. Product safety laws for internal window coverings have applied in Western Australia since January 2004, so landlords need to ensure blind/curtain cords and chains supplied after this date meet the national product safety requirements.

    If blinds/curtains were bought before January 2004, landlords are strongly encouraged to 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.
     
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  4. quop

    quop Well-Known Member

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    Additional info: property is in QLD, blinds were installed some time prior to 2007.
     
  5. Otie

    Otie Well-Known Member

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    What are the specifics? I have wooden 50mm Venetians in my IP, would like to double check they're okay

    Cords seem to be the same as the ones in my PPOR which were purchased in 2010.
     
  6. Joynz

    Joynz Well-Known Member

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    Details in the link posted by Big Will
     
  7. quop

    quop Well-Known Member

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    From what I can find, the mandatory standards around corded internal window coverings are detailed in:
    The PSA page gives the key requirements as (bolding/emphasis mine):
    Installation
    The corded internal window covering must be installed in a way that ensures a loose cord cannot form a loop 220 mm or longer at or less than 1,600 mm above floor level.

    The corded internal window covering must be also be installed in accordance with the installation instructions on any retail packaging for the covering

    A cleat used to secure a cord must be installed at least 1,600 mm above floor level.

    Labelling
    A person installing a corded internal window covering must attach a label to it containing the name and contact details of the person or company responsible for the installation and must not remove any warning label or swing tag supplied with the corded internal window covering.​

    I don't know if the legislation is retrospective. In any case I have no qualms about ensuring any blinds in my IP/s installed before the legislation came into effect, are brought up to the same standard as required for new installations viz. via the use of cleats/tensioning devices etc.

    However I don't know how the labelling requirements can be met (long) after the fact of installation.
    • Am I as the current owner of the property expected to attach a label nominating myself as the person responsible for the installation?
    • I have no idea whether warning labels/swing tags came with the blinds in the first place. I'd be happy to attach them myself - a 20pack of labels costs $10 posted from Premier Shades.
    It's easy enough to check for missing labels/cleats etc at each new lease/renewal, in conjunction with checking/testing operation of smoke alarms and safety switch. These are things any layperson can (learn to) do. I just cannot see where the requirement for using a licensed company and getting certification comes into play.
     
  8. datto

    datto Well-Known Member

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    I'd tell the agent to go hang themself.

    If the cords meet Australian Standards there should be no problem.
     
  9. MyPropertyPro

    MyPropertyPro SE Qld Property Management & Investor Services Business Member

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    Good evening

    As an agent in QLD I can hopefully offer some input here. It is not a legal requirement to use a contractor and gain a certificate as such- the legal requirement is to ensure it is compliant.The issue then though, is how can said compliance be proven and IF something terrible happened - then the agency or yourself would most likely not be covered in the absence of a certificate/evidence as such. Insurance companies would more than likely also ask for a certificate of compliance also from what I understand.

    Statistics from the Office of Fair Trading have indicated that 12 children have passed away from blind cord strangulation since year 2000. This is why most agents do recommend that landlords utilise the services offered by companies such as Safety Watch Australia (For example only - there are other companies also) who attend inspections at properties for an annual fee (anywhere from $80 a year to $150 a fee for the top package). They can check that smoke alarms are complaint, safety switch and blind cords, and they rectify any issues on the spot (no extra charge). They also go back as many times as needed in a 12 month period for the once off fee so most landlords do see value in this service.

    At the end of the day it is an option that I see most landlords choose for peace of mind. If you are getting blinds checked at the time the smoke alarms are being checked (which is most often the case before a new tenancy commences) then the cost is only something like an extra $30 for the year to have the blinds also deemed compliant.

    Many agencies in QLD will not actually take on a management if an owner is not willing to somehow prove items are compliant as it can be a massive liability and risk for everybody involved. I do believe it is something we will see more of.

    In relation to the tags - from what I understand, all blinds now produced since the legislation passed have the tags and this is why when a company goes out to check and rectify - they just install them as to say - Yes - compliant.

    Here is a link from the Office of Fair Trading that you might find helpful and it has all of the requirements on it

    http://www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/256712/blind-cord-safety.pdf

    Hope that helps somewhat!
     
    Last edited: 7th Sep, 2016
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  10. Ed Barton

    Ed Barton Well-Known Member

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    I hate the way this safeness thing is going. What happened to the good olde days when you could get drunk, stick the kids in the back of the ute, go to the pub, get more drunk and drive home with impunity.
     
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  11. Joynz

    Joynz Well-Known Member

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    I know that the blinds in my IP are compliant bacause I made them compliant.

    How would I prove it? Photos, I guess.
     
  12. MyPropertyPro

    MyPropertyPro SE Qld Property Management & Investor Services Business Member

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    Although I cannot offer legal advice, it is my opinion that I guess this could be an option for the cleats etc however I would imagine the photos would have to be dated to prove they were intact on the date a tenant moved in etc. A photo wouldn't prove the exact height requirement though - unless taken beside a tape measure of course.

    It is probably best to check with your insurance company however regarding this to see what they would accept as proof that they were compliant if anything was to happen.

    19 years working in the property management industry has taught me that often we have to think of a worst case scenario situation - hope that nothing bad ever does happen - and just do all we can to make sure all bases are covered - just in case. That's just some personal advice from me ;)
     
    Last edited: 7th Sep, 2016
  13. DiligentPM

    DiligentPM Well-Known Member Business Member

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    Essentially, as with the installation of smoke alarms if you follow legislative requirements to meet your duty of care you will be okay. It is all about taking steps to address real and/or potential risks - I have shared some helpful information to enable colleagues to mitigate the risks by taking some basic precautions as outlined in the legislation, the RTA and the ACCC.

    Blind safety legislation (Competition and Consumer Safety Standards 2014 as per link below:
    Competition and Consumer (Corded Internal Window Coverings) Safety Standard 2014

    Qualified builders, carpenters, interior designers who may install window dressings etc need to be across the legislation - landlords need be across this legislation and if you follow the instructions you meet your 'duty of care'

    1. Installation of corded internal window coverings

    (1) A corded internal window covering must be installed:


    (a) in such a way that a loose cord cannot form a loop 220 mm or
    longer at less than 1,600 mm above floor level; and
    (b) using any components specified in the installation instructions as
    necessary to meet requirements for cord safety.
    (2) A corded internal window covering must also be installed in accordance
    with:
    (a) the installation instructions on any retail packaging for the covering;
    and
    (b) other information provided in the installation instructions about how to
    install the corded internal window covering for the purpose of ensuring
    that a loose cord cannot form a loop as described in paragraph (1) (a).
    (3) No part of a cord guide may be installed lower than 1,600 mm above floor
    level unless:
    (a) the cord guide will remain firmly attached to a wall or other structure
    specified in the installation instructions when subjected to a tension
    force of 70 N applied in any direction for 10 seconds; and
    (b) the cord is sufficiently secured or tensioned to prevent the formation of
    a loop 220 mm or longer.
    (4) A cleat used to secure a cord must be installed at least 1,600 mm above
    floor level (cleat is what you wrap the cord around)
    1. Labelling requirements
    (1) A person installing a corded internal window covering must:
    (a) attach a label to the corded window covering containing the name and
    contact details of the person or company responsible for the
    installation; and
    (b) ensure that any warning label or swing tag supplied with the corded
    internal window covering remains attached to the cord.

    Information from the RTA in Queensland below, note what I have highlighted:

    Blind and curtain cord safety
    Apr - May 2014

    To minimise the risk to children, all new corded blinds, curtains and window coverings must comply with a national safety standard.

    Blind and curtain cords have the potential to harm babies and children, who can be easily entangled in the loops.

    According to the Office of Fair Trading, since 2000 at least 12 children have died from blind or curtain cord strangulation in Australia.

    All new window coverings supplied to rental properties must follow the mandatory standard, which came into effect in 2010 and is detailed on theProduct Safety Australia website.

    Blinds and curtain cords supplied before 2010 can be made safe by either cutting the cords or hooking them up out of harm’s way.

    Safety tassels, which join the ends of blind cords together and separate when pressure is applied, are available from hardware stores.

    Alternatively, blind cords can be wrapped securely around hooks attached high on the wall.

    The Office of Fair Trading recommends the bottom of any blind cord is at least 160cm above the floor level. [link to http://www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au/blind-and-curtain-cord-safety-reminder.htm]

    Lessors are obliged to ensure a rental property is in a good state of repair and fit for the tenant to live in.

    The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) clearly articulates what reasonable steps can be taken to manage your duty of care to achieve legislative requirements:

    Staying safe with blind and curtain cords

    Loose or looped cords can be extremely dangerous. Parents and carers are urged to take the necessary steps to ensure blinds and curtains in your home don't pose a threat to your children.

    Installing or fixing blinds and curtains at home
    • When installing new blinds and curtains, make sure you or the installer secures any loose or looped cords—do not leave them hanging down.
    • Some blinds can’t operate properly without looped cords. To keep them out of children’s reach you should secure these cords with either:
      • tie-downs (cleats), or
      • tension devices that enclose cords and chain loops.
    • You can get tie-downs and tension devices from hardware or window furnishing stores.
    • Always fix tie-downs and tension devices firmly to the wall or window-frame so a child is not able to remove it. Never use materials that can’t support a load, such as double-sided tape or glue.
    Safety at home
    • Go through every room in your home and check for any blinds or curtains with long cords that are either loose or looped. Remember, this includes any cords that are within children’s reach at floor level or near furniture they can climb on.
    • Do not put children’s cots, beds, highchairs or playpens near a window where children can reach the blind or curtain cords. The cords can get around children’s necks and strangle them while they are playing or sleeping.
    • Do not place sofas, chairs, tables, shelves or bookcases near windows with corded blinds or curtains. Young children often like to climb onto furniture to look out the window. If they can reach the cords, they may quickly become entangled in them, lose their footing and suffer strangulation or serious injuries.
    • Make sure blind and curtain cords are not hanging anywhere within children’s reach. Loose cords can easily wrap around and strangle children who are jumping, playing or climbing nearby.
    • Always supervise children in any rooms with reachable blind or curtain cords. Accidental strangulation can happen very quickly, so never leave children alone in these rooms, even for a short while.
    Staying safe in a rental home
    • If you are living in a rental property, seek help from your landlord or agent to ensure cords and chains are out of reach.
     
  14. Redwing

    Redwing Well-Known Member

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  15. gman65

    gman65 Well-Known Member

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    Cut them to a few cm below the top of the blinds, and way above 1.6m. Would have to prove in any incident they were below 1.6 which would be impossible.

    Having somebody check compliance on that sort of thing is a sad reflection on Australia. What is next? Window glass stress test compliance, floor leveling compliance, ceiling fan spin rate compliance? Hot water temperature compliance? floor slip compliance?
     
  16. quop

    quop Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the input everyone. I have discussed this issue with my main PM contact and one of the business owners, who called me to apologise for the incorrect information that came from one of their other staff.

    There's lots more I could say on this topic (and similar issues with smoke alarms/safety switches), but I'll leave it at that/for another day.