6 things to look out for when choosing a child-friendly strata property

6 things to look out for when choosing a child-friendly strata property

Here are some safety checks you should consider if you’re on the market for a child-friendly strata property

It’s no surprise that so many young families choose to raise their children in apartments and strata complexes. After all, there’s nothing like the convenience and sense of community that strata living provides. However, if you have young kids, you should take care to choose a child-friendly strata property for your family.

The good news is, all new and old strata buildings in Australia should adhere to strict laws and standards. However, many buildings don’t meet these requirements, so it’s wise to be extra-cautious.

Importantly, buying a townhouse within a complex is very different to buying a unit in a small apartment block. Each property type has a unique set of benefits and it’s important to consider what will be right for you. If you have a small family and aren’t planning on growing – a smaller space may be adequate. If you have pets and several children a townhouse with a grassy low-maintenance courtyard may be better suited.

1. Inclusive by-laws or building rules

Strata property by-laws and rules vary from building to building, with some properties being more child-orientated than others. Most buildings will have guidelines covering supervision of children in common areas like the pool or garden. If you’re on the hunt for a child-friendly strata property, make sure to check the property’s by-laws before making an offer.

2. Child-proof windows and locks

Every now and then, horror stories pop up in the media about babies falling out of windows. In a bid to prevent this from recurring, most Australian states have updated laws. In March 2018, all strata buildings in New South Wales were required to meet strict window safety device standards. This has likely increased the amount of child-friendly strata property for families to choose from.

According to clause 30 of the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016, all windows more than 1.7 metres above the ground are required to be fitted with devices that lock the window from opening more than 12.5 centimetres.

If you don’t think your building meets state regulations you should speak with your strata manager or the committee. Owners corporations are usually responsible for maintaining and repairing common property, but the owners corporation can pass a common property rights by-law so individual lot owners are made responsible for installing window safety devices. The other option is for the owners corporation to adopt model by-laws (Schedule 3 of the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2015) which means individual lot owners can install and repair window safety devices in their lot without consent.

3. Adequate safety features around swimming pools

Swimming pools are a great way to entertain children in summer but it can also pose safety risks. Every year there are fatalities from drowning. While it’s important children are supervised in pools at all times, risk can be minimised by ensuring all amenities meet safety standards and state legislation.

In New South Wales, owners corporations are responsible for ensuring pools adhere to the Swimming Pools Act 1992. Under the act, owners must ensure swimming pools have a child safety barrier surrounding it, and the fencing must comply with Australian standards. The law also states a CPR sign must be displayed near swimming pools. If you’re thinking about buying into a strata property with a pool, make sure the seller provides all relevant documentation, such as a registration certificate from the swimming pool register and a swimming pool certificate of compliance. You may find that some child-friendly strata properties have further safety features in place, to protect the kids in their community.

Queensland and Victoria have similar legislation. In Queensland, all swimming pools must be registered with the QBCC and have safety barriers that meet a minimum height of 1.2 metres around the full perimeter. Fencing has strict criteria such as the gap between the fence and the ground and rules to ensure the fence is not climbable. In addition, the pool gate is required to open outwards (away from the pool) as well as self-close and self latch. Like New South Wales, CPR signs must be displayed.

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4. Safe balcony and deck heights

There are strict requirements for balconies to prevent serious falls. If you’re looking for a child-friendly strata property, it’s important to make sure these requirements have been adhered to.

According to the Building Code of Australia, balcony balustrades, boundaries and decks should be at least one meter in height from the ground. They should be built with sturdy, durable building materials and regularly inspected for wear and tear. The owners corporation are usually responsible for this as they should maintain and repair common areas, including boundary walls and structure of the building.

5. Good noise control

When searching for a child-friendly strata property, it may be wise to choose one that is built and designed with good soundproofing measures. When you have a baby or a child, you don’t want noisy neighbours waking them up and you also don’t want a screaming baby to disturb your neighbours.

To avoid moving into a noisy home, you should consider checking the windows, walls, flooring and insulation. Double glazed windows can help reduce noise from outside and some apartments will have additional false walls or ceilings installed to reduce noise travelling from other lots. Another alternative is barrier panels, which can be fixed to the outside of walls to reduce sound. Noise can also travel from the hallway so ensure the door is of adequate material and that there aren’t any big gaps.

6. Adequate parking

As your family grows, the number of cars you have may as well. Your strata property may only come with one allocated spot, so checking whether access to street parking and residential and guest parking permits are easily available is well worth it.

You’ll also want to make getting children from the car into your home as simple as possible, especially if you’re wrangling shopping bags at the same time. A safe, secure parking spot – say a garage or carport – with lift access that’s close to the dwelling with minimal obstacles is ideal for those who need a child-friendly strata property.

When searching for a child-friendly strata property, it’s wise to ask for the opinion of other owners with children— you’ll likely receive honest and unique insights into how the strata property is being managed. Ask questions about whether neighbours are friendly if there are many other families in the complex, where the nearest playground and childcare is, and if they feel the neighbourhood and property is safe for kids.

 

To access our full range of strata resources or to stay up to date on regular updates, sign up to receive our quarterly newsletter. For a consultation to review your by-laws, our Kemps Petersons Legal team is at your service to assist. Or, one of our team members can assist you with a free assessment – it’s free and carries no obligation.


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