Toddler death prompts tenancies act changes to save children from falling furniture

The death of a WA toddler has led to law changes allowing renters’ families to fix furniture to home walls to prevent injury or death from furniture toppling on their children.

New laws have passed State Parliament amending the Residential Tenancies Act, allow tenants to attach furniture to a wall to prevent a child or person with a disability from being hurt or killed.

Under the Consumer Protection Legislation Amendment Bill, tenants will need to submit a request form to attach the furniture.

Tenants who attach furniture to walls will have to repair the wall at the end of their tenancy.

Owners can only refuse request forms in very limited circumstances, including if the home is heritage-listed or the walls contain asbestos.

The Bill also amends occupational licensing schemes to assist real estate settlement agents to understand their obligations better, manage their licensing applications online and give consumers better access to property insurance and compensation.

The reforms came after the death of 21-month-old Reef Kite, who was killed by a falling chest of drawers at his family’s rental home in 2015.

It added to the deaths of 22 young children across Australia since 2001.

An inquest heard that the furniture had not been secured to the wall because the family did not have permission.

Amendments to the law were a recommendation of the coroner’s report in 2017 in light of the death.

Attorney General John Quigley said the new laws had a big impact to saving lives.

“The simple action of anchoring furniture can save the life of a child or a person with a disability, and a wall can usually be repaired with ease by filling holes and repainting,” Mr Quigley said.

“I’m pleased the McGowan Government has been able to get these common-sense changes through Parliament to prevent injury and death in WA rental homes in future.”

He added that the amendments updated rules to meet today’s requirements.

“It’s a bonus that this Bill sees outdated components in a range of Acts administered by Consumer Protection updated in ways that reduce red tape and make improvements for business and in the community,” he said.

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