Reminder of the dangers of toppling furniture and large appliances - Tenants bulletin 34
22 April 2022
Reminder of the dangers of toppling furniture and large appliances
You may be aware of the tragic death of a child in Byford late last year, which was caused by toppling furniture.
Consumer Protection is reminding tenants of the dangers of toppling furniture through a public awareness campaign, which includes a powerful film about the risks of toppling furniture.
Laws supporting children’s safety came into force in October 2019 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. Furniture can also be anchored to the wall to protect people with a disability.
This change to the tenancy laws aims to prevent injuries and deaths caused by furniture and electronic equipment such as TVs falling on top of young children.
Understanding the risks
As you will be aware, small children have a natural tendency to climb on furniture such as freestanding bookcases, drawers, wardrobes and sideboards. A child’s weight can easily cause unsecured furniture to topple, particularly if it has been made top-heavy by its contents or has heavy objects placed on it.
On average, toppling furniture and appliances kill one child a year in Australia and many others suffer injuries, many involving brain damage and broken bones. There have been at least 27 deaths involving toppling furniture and televisions since 2000. Children under the age of five are particularly at risk and suffer the highest proportion of deaths and injuries in Australia. Many more have been admitted to emergency rooms with injuries. These injuries and deaths are largely preventable.
So it’s really important to install wall anchors which are often provided with many of these items or can be purchased at most local hardware stores.
Summary of key points for tenants
- Laws are now in place allowing tenants to fix furniture and appliances to walls with the permission of the landlord or their agent. Permission cannot be refused except in very limited circumstances, such as the home is heritage-listed or the walls contain asbestos.
- After receiving a request from the tenant, landlords have 14 days to respond. If no response is received the tenant is entitled to go ahead regardless, however, they must repair the wall at the end of the tenancy.
- Tenants need to ensure when securing items, they check that the fixings are appropriate for the item’s size and weight and seek professional help to affix furniture to avoid any injury, damage, or electrical wires/water pipes in the wall cavity.
Process for tenants to anchor furniture
- 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.