Owners Corporation Act Changes 2021
8 key points that strata property owners must know about the Owners Corporations Act amendments 2021
June 28, 2021
The Owners Corporations Amendment Act 2021:
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August 2, 2021

Gas and Electricity Safety Check

Are you playing it safe this winter?

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About half of all fires in the home start in the kitchen, and more than 4 in 10 of all deaths from fire happen during winter - Winter Health Hazards at Home | Health Direct

Whether it’s risks heightened by the use of barbecues in enclosed areas during summer or heaters running almost 24/7 in winter, lot owners need to be vigilant to minimise risks presented now, and in fact all year long.

While your home presents many dangers throughout the year, we recognise increased seasonal risks that you, your family and friends may be exposed to throughout these colder months.

This year especially, with people working from home due to the pandemic, on the colder days the use of heating devices will be increased more than ever before, and for longer periods of time – from fireplaces, electric heaters, electric blankets, wheat bags to heated throw rugs… the list is extensive. Feeling warm and toasty in winter is a wonderful privilege of the modern age, but we need to be aware of the risks and, more importantly, of the things we can do to make it as safe as possible. Here is your full guide to gas and electrical safety check:

Gas Safety

There are risks of carbon monoxide poisoning with fuel driven heating devices used in internal enclosed spaces, and the investment of a carbon monoxide monitor is essential if you use this type of heating. Gas appliances are readily available in Australia, are affordable and easy to install. Never use external heating equipment inside your home. It is important that you make sure:

  • fireplaces have fire screens
  • flues and chimneys are regularly cleaned
  • to only burn safe fuel in your fireplace – don’t burn rubbish, plastic or painted / treated timber
  • to get gas bottles and lines checked
  • to watch for warning signs like hot spots and gas smells
  • For more tips and advice on gas safety check, have a look at these useful links

  • Heaters and open fires - Fire and Rescue NSW
  • Gas heating - health and safety issues - Better Health Channel
  • Electricity Safety

    There are so many electrical appliances that provide a heat source that are used more in winter than in summer, from tumble dryers to slow cookers. The same electrical safety checks apply to all of them – use only as specified in the manufacturers’ instructions and check they are undamaged and in good working order, including their cords, before using them. Get them inspected by a qualified professional if you have any doubt.

    Moreover, electrical heaters have their own specific risks and should only be used:

  • with at least 1 meter distance away from any other item in your home
  • when regularly inspected for faults
  • by not leaving them unattended and not used with extension cords or on overloaded circuits
  • by never hanging washing or any items on them to heat up or to dry
  • by making sure to check them carefully for any signs of damage when getting them out of storage at the start of the winter season.
  • Get more useful tips here.

    Electric blankets may sound like a cheap and cosy solution to cold nights and conserving costs on your electricity bill, but they need to be used correctly and are actually responsible for a number of house fires and severe burns each year. It is important to:

  • store them correctly when not in use
  • check them regularly for hot spots
  • not sleep with them on
  • not use them for the elderly or infants
  • preferably not place them in the washer even if the manufacturers say this is safe, as it increases the risk of damage to the blankets.
  • For more information check out this page

    General safety responsibilities as a lot owner for your family or tenants

    All homes should have safety switches – safety switches save lives. There is more information on what your safety switch obligations are on these sites:

  • Electrical safety in rental properties | Electrical Safety Office
  • RCD rules | Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (commerce.wa.gov.au)
  • SA.GOV.AU - Safety switches (www.sa.gov.au)
  • Residual current devices (RCD) or safety switches | NT WorkSafe
  • Get a professional to regularly test gas and electrical appliances. There are laws in place requiring specific testing regimes for tenanted properties for gas and electrical appliances and for smoke alarms. For lot owner-occupiers, while you may not be mandated to undertake the checks by law, the benefits remain.

    To support you, Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) has released a guide to what has become mandatory obligations for Landlords, with regard to safety checks for gas and electricity. It’s all part of the recently changed Victorian rental laws. However, please note that the laws differ in each State and Territory. For advice on the gas and electricity safety obligations rental providers have for Victoria and Queensland, as well as keeping records and evidence necessary to confirm your compliance, visit the following links Guide for rental providers - Gas and electricity safety checks and Electrical safety at home | Electrical Safety Office

    There are new rules coming into place in Queensland for 2022 regarding smoke alarms that Landlords need to be proactive about to ensure compliance. For more information we recommend you review these websites:

  • Smoke alarms | Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (qfes.qld.gov.au)
  • Smoke alarms | Residential Tenancies Authority (rta.qld.gov.au)
  • Smoke alarms | Tenants' Union
  • As a lot owner within your body corporate, you’re assured that your professional Ace Body Corporate (BC) Manager will support the activities of your body corporate and its committee by

  • encouraging and coordinating routine preventative maintenance and prompt repairs of shared services as matters arise
  • ensuring safe and effective operation of services supporting your lot.
  • To find out more or coordinate inspections, landlords are encouraged to contact their rental agents. Lot owner-occupiers are at liberty to arrange their own inspections and may wish to find out more via Consumer Affairs Victoria. For all body corporate related inquiries, don’t hesitate to contact your professional Ace Body Corporate Manager.

    Ace Body Corporate Management
    Disclaimer: This is not advice and should only be referred to for general information purposes. Strata management contracts often vary, so we recommend you contact your local Ace manager for more information, or seek expert legal advice. This article is not intended to be personal advice, and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.Ace Body Corporate Management offers this newsletter to clients to assist in updating them on company and industry news. The content within this newsletter is of a generic nature and may not be applicable to all owners corporations. Ace Body Corporate Management attempts to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information for our clients. However, we strongly recommend that individuals and committees seek further advice before acting on any information in this newsletter.