A new public awareness campaign has begun in Western Australia to remind renters and landlords about the dangers of toppling furniture and what they can do to prevent it.

Laws that allow renters to fix (or anchor) furniture to walls to prevent death or injury to children came into effect back in 2019. Consumer Protection WA hopes the latest campaign will act as a strong reminder of this change and its importance.

The change to the laws means that as a tenant in WA, you’re now allowed to fix furniture to the walls of your rental property. Your landlord can only object in reasonable circumstances.

This change aims to prevent injuries and deaths caused by furniture and electronic equipment, such as televisions falling on top of young children.

Why is this so important in Australia?

On average, toppling furniture and appliances kill one child a year in Australia. Many others suffer injuries, many involving brain damage and broken bones.

There’ve been at least 27 deaths involving toppling furniture and televisions since 2000. Children under the age of five are particularly at risk and suffer the highest proportion of deaths in Australia.

How do I approach this with my landlord?

If you rent in WA, you can submit a request form. Your landlord can only refuse under limited circumstances, such as the rental being heritage listed or if there are existing asbestos issues.

Hot tip: The form you’ll need is the Request to lessor to affix furniture (Form 24), and you can find that here.

As a tenant, you’re also required to repair any damage to your wall at the end of your tenancy.

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What are my obligations as a landlord?

The current laws in WA allow tenants to fix furniture and appliances to walls with the permission of their landlord or agent. You can’t refuse consent except in limited circumstances, such as the home being heritage listed or if the walls contain asbestos.

Once you receive a request from your tenant, you have 14 days to respond. If you don’t respond in this time, your tenant is entitled to go ahead. That being said, they are obliged to repair the wall at the end of the tenancy.

Things to check

When securing items, check that the fixings are appropriate for the item’s size and weight, and seek professional help to affix furniture to avoid any injury, damage, or electrical wires/water pipes in the wall cavity.

According to the ACCC, the following products have been involved in injuries and fatalities due to their tendency to topple over:

  • Bookcases
  • Chest of drawers
  • Tallboys
  • Dressers
  • Shelves
  • Televisions
  • Other furniture (such as chairs and tables)

Aside from securing furniture to walls, consider the following advice to help reduce the risk of tip-overs:

  • Don’t put heavy items on top of shelves or bookcases
  • Discourage small children from climbing on furniture
  • Don’t put tempting items such as favourite toys on top of furniture that encourage children to climb it
  • Don’t put unstable furniture near places where children play
  • Put locking devices on all drawers and doors to stop children from opening them and using them as steps

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Where can I find more information about anchoring furniture?

Consumer Protection WA’s Home safety for rental properties page contains information about anchoring furniture. If you have any questions about home safety for rental properties, you can also contact Consumer Protection on 1300 304 054.

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