Chapter News

Is it time to reassess the role of the property manager?

REINSW CEO Tim McKibbin wrote to the NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe in early January to reiterate the industry’s concerns regarding property managers’ responsibilities attaching to the new window safety device laws that passed through Parliament last year.

REINSW fully supports any amendments to legislation that address the loss of life, however placing responsibility on property managers who do not possess the specific skills necessary to judge whether or not the window safety device is complaint, does not address the inherit dangers,” Mr McKibbin said.

“In a letter to the Commissioner, we outlined our concerns regarding the increased responsibilities being thrust upon property managers and whether it is appropriate for them to be held responsible for the functionality of window safety devices.”

The Commissioner replied:

The changes to the prescribed condition report for rental premises, which commenced on 1 March 2014, do not impose any new responsibilities on real estate agents, property manager or landlords.

“In relation to completion of a condition report, agents should assess the condition of child window safety devices and determine whether they appear to operate appropriately. The agent is required to undertake a similar assessment of the device as would be currently undertaken in respect to other items listed on the report, for example door locks, hot water systems, air conditioners or smoke detectors.

“If a window device is not deemed to be functioning correctly, the agent would need to note this on the condition report. However, if an agent cannot be certain that a device is working, they can place an ‘N’ in the appropriate column. In accordance with the usual process, it will be the responsibility of the owner to respond to observations of defective devices.

Owners’ Corporations have been given until 13 March 2018 to install window safety devices on windows above the ground floor in residential strata buildings so they do not open more than 12.5cm when the lock is engaged.

“NSW Fair Trading believes that property managers can make the determination, however with respect REINSW disagrees,” Mr McKibbin said.

“With a property manager being thrust into the position of judging various building utilities and the compliance of various building attributes including, but not limited to, balconies, smoke alarms and asbestos, it appears to be an appropriate time to reassess the property managers function.

"REINSW will continue to lobby for a better definition and understanding of what the property manager’s role is,” he said.