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Landlords Beware of Your Obligations and Responsibilities: Blinds and Curtain Cords Can Kill

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Every year, at least one or two children in an Australian home die from non-compliant curtains and corded blinds.

“Loose cords can be extremely dangerous to young children, as they can quickly tangle or loop around a child’s neck. We are urging parents and carers to check each room in their house for blinds or curtains with cords and tie them up with cleats.”ACCC Commissioner, Sarah Court.

As a landlord, you have a responsibility to ensure the safety of all tenants and their visitors while on your property.

The death or injury of anyone using or visiting your rental property can result in a lawsuit. If proven liable, you might end up in a courtroom answering charges for involuntary manslaughter.

Unsecure blinds, curtain rods or chains pose a serious risk to the safety of home users, especially children. Children do not understand the danger of a cord or chain wrapped around their neck.

In the course of their play, they might keep rolling or moving. If a cord or chain wraps around their neck, it can strangle them, leading to serious injury or death.

How Do Blinds and Curtain Cords Affect Safety in the Home?

While blinds and curtains improve the aesthetic of a home, they also pose a safety risk, especially for children in the home.

Loose cords and chains on blinds and curtains can loop over a child when:

  • The child is asleep in a cot or bed with hanging chains or cords.
  • Playing with or near cords or chains.
  • Using cords or chains to climb and look out a window.

What Guidelines Does the Law Provide?

The Residential Tenancies Act 1987 states that your rental property must follow all building, health and safety laws. You are responsible for ensuring any person who uses or visits your rental is not at risk of injury.

You must comply with the July 2010 mandatory standard for internal window coverings and the January 2015 regulations detailing guidelines for the installation of window coverings.

What Are a Landlord’s Responsibilities?

You have a responsibility to provide your tenants with a safe home.

If you target families, you need to think about the safety of any children who might live on your property.

Also consider tenants who have children visiting them from time to time.

Understand the Relevant Safety Laws

To prevent blind- and curtain cord-related deaths, you must abide by several regulations.

If you have any window coverings that were installed before January 2004, you need to update them to meet current product safety laws.

If you choose not to change the window coverings, inform your tenants of any risk they present. Advise your tenants to tie the cords or chains so they are out of reach of children. This includes ensuring the children can’t reach the cord or chains while standing on furniture.

Share the warning in writing and orally. Make sure the tenants understand the risks the cords and chains pose to young users in the home.

If you have window coverings that were installed after January 2004, they should meet the necessary installation and product safety standards.

Each covering will come with safety devices to secure loose cords or chains and a warning tag or label. The tag or label will have safety instructions tenants can follow to keep the home safe.

Secure Loose Chains and Cords

In most cases, the safety devices attached to window coverings will prevent accidents.

As a precautionary measure, you can buy extra devices from hardware stores. You’ll find various safety accessories you can use to secure loose cords and chains. For example:

  • Cleats for cords or chains to keep them out of reach.
  • Tie downs and tension devices to help pull and secure a looped chain or cord to the wall, floor or ceiling.

When installing safety devices, secure everything with at least two screws. Avoid using glue or double-sided tape, as they can peel with ease.

Install Cordless Blinds

Installing cordless blinds and shades eliminates the risk of having loose cords hanging around.

Cordless blinds do not need a string ‘cord’ to lift and fall. They fold and fall automatically with a little push or pull, respectively.

Cordless blinds work on easy-to-reach windows. You need quick access to the blinds every time you open or close them.

Inspect the Property

Before handing over your property to a tenant, make sure you have all the necessary safety measures in place.

Thereafter, inspect the property on a regular basis. During the inspection, check for the placement and condition of the safety devices.

Replace any broken or damaged security devices immediately.

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What Are a Tenant’s Responsibilities?

Maintain Safety

Your tenants should take care of all shades, curtains, binds and their safety devices.

If something tears or breaks, they should inform you immediately.

Take Care of Children

Even with all the safety measures in place, advise your tenants not to leave children unsupervised.

Children move fast and can easily expose themselves to danger. For example, children might step on each other or on pets and reach secured cords and chains.

Take Care of Window Coverings

Simple alterations on curtains and blinds can turn a safe covering into a safety hazard.

Tenants should avoid mishandling curtains or tampering with safety devices.

Inform You When Changing Window Coverings

Long-term tenants might choose to change existing window coverings.

If they do so, they should inform you of the changes.

During installation, the tenant should follow up to ensure the new coverings meet all safety standards.

Thereafter, you should inspect the new window coverings to ensure they meet all safety standards.

If the tenants choose to bypass the safety devices, ask them to sign an indemnity form. This protects you from liability in the case of a cord- or chain-related accident.

Your Obligations

The success of your tenancy business will depend on your ability to provide a safe and secure property.

As a self-managing landlord, you have to take on a lot of responsibility. This includes keeping your tenants safe.

Oftentimes, safety-related tasks will demand a lot of time and resources. This will leave you with little or no time to deal with administrative tasks.

You can outsource most of the administrative tasks to create time to focus on your property’s safety. 

Lodge allows you to automate most of your work, leaving enough time to focus on your tenant’s safety. Their free property management software simplifies many of the repetitive tasks. This makes self-management easy.

You can start spending more time on making your property safe by signing up for Lodge’s free property management platform today.

Photo: peoplecreations