New child safety laws now in force to prevent toppling furniture accidents
New laws supporting children’s safety have come into force for tenants who are now allowed to fix furniture to the walls of their rental home and the landlord can only object in limited circumstances.
Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act aim to prevent injuries and deaths caused by furniture and electronic equipment such as TVs falling on top of young children. On average since 2001, one child a year has died in Australia from toppling furniture with many more suffering serious injuries.
Previously, tenants were unable to anchor furniture to the wall without the landlord’s permission. Now, tenants submit a request form and landlords can only refuse under limited circumstances, such as the property being heritage listed or if there are asbestos issues. Tenants are required to repair any damage to the wall at the end of their tenancy.
The catalyst for the law change in WA came in 2015 following the death of 21-month-old Reef Kite who was crushed by a chest of drawers in his family’s rental home. The subsequent inquest into his death heard that the landlord had refused a request to secure the furniture and the Coroner recommended the law be changed.
Furniture can also be anchored to the wall to protect people with a disability.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said landlords and their agents should now be well aware of this important amendment to the law.
“A small amount of damage to a wall which can easily be repaired is a small price to pay for ensuring the safety of children living in a rental home and preventing a possible death,” Mr Hillyard said.
“Tenants need to be aware of these new rights and they should let Consumer Protection know if their request is being denied so we can check if the property owner’s refusal is justified.
“If not, we will take a dim view of property owners and/or their agents who may face either prosecution or disciplinary action if they do not comply with this new law.”
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