Government must act to prevent consumer danger
21 August 2018

For many years, REINSW has actively lobbied Government in regards to consumer safety in rental properties.

Currently, property managers must make determinations regarding the safety of a property on issues including, but not limited to:

  • Smoke alarms
  • Glass
  • Asbestos
  • Window safety locks
  • Decks and balconies
  • Electrical installations
  • Swimming pools
  • Lead paint

Although experienced in tenancy and legislative matters, property managers are not qualified to comment on these issues.

State Coroner’s Court echoes REINSW recommendations on smoke alarms

Following the inquest into the death of Miata Jibba, Magistrate Harriet Grahame of the NSW State Coroner’s Court made recommendations in relation to smoke alarms and public safety. 

Magistrate Grahame found that if adequate smoke alarms were fitted in the property, Miata’s death could likely have been prevented.

Of high importance was her recommendation for the introduction of a Certificate of Compliance regime for all residential dwellings (like that implemented for swimming pools).

She stated the Certificate of Compliance should be part of the residential tenancy agreement and certified by appropriately qualified individuals who can confirm the smoke alarm:

  • Has been properly installed and located
  • Has been tested and cleaned
  • Works effectively

The Certificate of Compliance should also contain a diagram of the location of each smoke alarm in the property.

This recommendation echoes those made by REINSW and substantiates the need for smoke alarm safety reform. 

“We have suggested a safer and more systematic approach should be taken,” says Tim McKibbin, REINSW CEO. “A Certificate of Compliance regime is a far more effective solution.

“The reality is property managers are not experts on smoke alarms and do not have the technical expertise to confirm they are compliant and working.”

Changes will save lives

Cameron Davis, CEO of Smoke Alarm Solutions, agrees Magistrate Grahame’s recommendations will improve safety and save lives.
“The introduction of a Certificate of Compliance will help ensure working smoke alarms are in every NSW rental property,” he says. “It will also reduce the burden on property managers.”
“It is unacceptable only 75 per cent of properties in the State have working smoke alarms. It is vital smoke alarms are maintained and serviced at the commencement of each lease by qualified and highly trained technicians.”

REINSW predicts more accidents if changes aren’t made

Two years prior to the death of Miata Jibba, REINSW contacted the then Minister for Fair Trading, the Honourable Matthew Mason-Cox (dated 7 May 2014), and the then NSW State Coroner, Magistrate Michael Barnes (dated 30 September 2014), regarding the dangerous expectations placed on property managers and the risks to consumers.

“It is irreconcilable that Government has prescribed procedures for consumer protection in relation to swimming pools, but leaves them unprotected in other areas,” says McKibbin.

“Unfortunately, as we did with smoke alarms, we can predict with some certainty that there will be accidents in relation to glass, windows and balconies. 

“In fact, REINSW will write to the Government again this year regarding balcony collapses, which we expect to occur as the weather warms up.”

Property manager vs tenancy manager

REINSW believes the role and functions of property managers should be reconsidered.

“We should be moving away from the concept of ‘property manager’ and towards ‘tenancy manager’,” McKibbin continues.

“This title is more in line with the functions a property manager should be responsible for, that is, managing the relationship between the landlord and the tenant.”

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