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Safety and security in rental homes

Author: One of the things that tenants look for in a quality rental home is the level of safety and security it provides.

Some of the safety measures you might expect in a rental property are mandatory while others are not necessarily. It comes down to definitions and practicalities.

Smoke alarms
One of the mandatory safety measures is smoke alarms.

These are required in all dwellings and must be hard-wired to the mains electrical system. They cannot be battery operated unless the installation of a hard-wired system isn’t possible. Where that occurs, lithium battery operated smoke alarms are acceptable.

The number of required smoke alarms is determined by the positioning of bedrooms and how many stories the dwelling is. If in doubt about any of this, raise the issue with your property manager.

Deadbolts
In July 2015 another mandatory measure will be deadbolts on all external, ground floor doors. Deadbolts are generally those which are key-locked from the outside but latch-locked from the inside.

The Department of Commerce prefers this model because in the case of fire or smoke inside the house they are easier to open in an emergency or in darkness.

Until July next year owners are permitted to use other forms of appropriate door locks.

Porch lights and windows
Porch lights will also be a mandatory form of security from July 2015. They must be present at the main entry door and operational from inside the home.

When it comes to windows the law provides that rental homes must have reasonable locks or latches that cannot be opened from the outside. This is not prescriptive but comes down to common sense.

Spas and swimming pools
If there is a spa or swimming pool in the rental then safety barriers are very important. The type of barrier that is required will depend on when the pool or spa first received local council approval.

Where a safety barrier is considered to not be operating properly, the property manager should be contacted immediately. If an owner does not respond to any concerns, tenants should contact their local government authority right away.

Most owners will want to ensure that their property has good safety and security because as well as being legally correct, it also helps to attract and maintain good tenants.

If you feel your current security measures are inadequate, consider discussing this with the owner or property manager. If approached in the right manner, it’s likely you’ll find that they will be agreeable to the modifications.

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