Fire safety by-laws
“Committees and owners may not give much attention to fire compliance and safety until it is too late or a disagreement has already arisen between neighbours.” said Michelle Kumar, Solicitor at Kemps Peterson Legal.
To get a better understanding of how committees and owners can use fire by-laws to enhance community living and reduce costs, our team is here to guide those living and investing in strata to better understand by-laws that enhance fire safety.
Smoke penetration and habits that become a nuisance
Everyone has the right to enjoy their apartment and property, however, smoke drift often creates significant feuds.
“About one in 10 fires attended to by Australian firefighters is caused by smoking because butts aren’t disposed of correctly. There is no doubt, without the right safety precautions in place, smoking has a significant impact on property and endangers lives,” said Michelle.
Specially drafted by-laws aren’t out to stop smokers—they are mechanisms that increase safety and enjoyment of property- by placing restrictions on:
- Where smokers are allowed to smoke, outlining clear and designated common property areas for smoking
- How to properly extinguish cigarette butts
- Restrictions around leaving cigarette butts, matches, or lighters on the common property.
“In our experience, once a property has measures in place to deal with issues like smoking, people are generally pretty abiding. No one wants to risk the health of others and trying to get along and consider others is important in community living,” said Michelle.
Fire safety by-laws
While fire safety is clearly outlined within the legislation, having a range of fire safety by-laws assists properties to meet safety standards and allocate costs when something needs fixing or goes wrong. The right kind of fire safety by-laws can prevent residents from acting in a way that reduces compliance or increases risk.
We can help place restrictions on all owners and renters from doing something that reduces the overall fire safety of a building or property, including not wanting to open up a private lot for a fire safety inspection. Implementing such by-laws helps communities to understand they have a genuine obligation to keep the property safe and risk-free,” said Michelle.
The KPL team helps properties excel in fire safety by drafting specialised by-laws that:
- Place restrictions on activities that reduce the fire safety level of the property
- Place restrictions on altering a fire door or lock
- Place restrictions on smoking within stairwells or close to fire exits
- Place obligations on the community to maintain fire safety equipment, including smoke detectors within their own lot and at their own cost
- Place obligations on owners to open up their private lots to assist fire safety inspections (with written notice).
False fire alarms
Whether deliberately caused, or triggered by something less premediated, the New South Wales Fire and Rescue false fire alarm call-out fee is $1,600. For some properties, having alarms set-off deliberately or without due cause is an issue that becomes extremely expensive. Consequently, who pays for the call-out fee becomes a major issue, one that can be avoided with the right by-law in place.
“No one wants to be hit with additional costs when something blatantly wasn’t their fault. We often have owners corporations who have reoccurring issues with false fire alarms on their property. Sometimes they are even set off on purpose. Our specialised by-law drafting, however, means we can assist to implement obligations should someone set off a fire alarm. For example, if you were smoking in the wrong spot and set a fire alarm off, the call out cost should sit with you and not be shared amongst every owner,” said Michelle.
By-laws drafting for false fire alarms help by:
- Placing obligations on owners or residents should they inappropriately activate a fire alarm
- Requiring an owner to be responsible for any costs associated with a smoke alarm that is falsely set off and results in the unnecessary attendance of the fire brigade.
Allowing lot access for local council orders
Local governments have a range of laws that they are allowed to enforce and operate under, including the Local Government Act 1993. Some of the regulations administered by local governments include safety requirements such as a Council Fire Safety order.
“Strata properties must comply with legislative fire safety requirements, like a fire safety order. However, having orders met often means having a qualified inspector enter private lots or apartments. While that seems like an easy request, people can be funny about this if they feel they have to partake in something they don’t want to or if they weren’t given proper notice and warning.
“Our by-laws drafting looks to help communities meet legislative requirements by making sure owners and residents know that they are obligated to do the right thing. For example, we draft by-laws that allow the owners corporation access to a private lot to comply with Council Fire Safety orders. Likewise, by-laws can stipulate that an owner is responsible for any costs associated with the rectification of fire safety defects within a lot. Having by-laws that deal with who is responsible for what is critical to achieving a successful property.
“Taking proactive action before issues happen is a huge step to making sure neighbours get along. When it comes to community living, being clear about obligations and requirements is the most straightforward and dispute free way to manage a property. Community living is a great place to live and invest, and specially drafted by-laws are a way of making sure strata living continues to be a good choice,” said Michelle.
How we can help
We provide legal services to committee members and property owners by providing tailored and watertight by-laws to minimise risk and aid the smooth running of a harmonious community. We will also take care of the consolidation and registration process to ensure a comprehensive experience.
It is important that a strata specialist is used to draft your by-laws, taking into consideration your current registered by-laws, as well as your individual needs and specifications. This ensures that your owners corporation is protected by their professional indemnity for the services undertaken.
Know what is included
Not all by-law products are the same
|Inclusions||Kemps Petersons Legal by-laws||Standard market by-laws||Basic templated by-laws|
|Tailored to your specific property|
|Establish if any additional by-laws are required to support this by-law|
|Alignment of new by-laws with existing by-laws to reduce contradictory by-laws|
|Draft motion in line with relevant legislative requirements|
|Outline rights and obligations of affected parties|
|Step by step guide to implementing the new by-law|
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