The safety of owner occupiers, tenants and visitors is one of the major concerns of an owners’ corporation, and a defective or inadequate balustrade can be one of the main safety risks on common property. If someone is injured or killed on common property, the owners’ corporation could be held liable. It is important that balustrades in the strata scheme are structurally sound and compliant with all the relevant building standards.
The National Construction Code 2019 requires that balustrades for all newly constructed strata plans meet a minimum height requirement of 1m; previous building standards had lesser requirements. The Code is not retrospective, so if your balustrades complied with the building codes at the time of construction then there is no obligation to replace them. However, if the owners’ corporation has been made aware of a balustrade being dangerous then they could be liable for any injury that may result. For instance, if you had a building report prepared that highlighted safety issues with a balustrade or if you had incidents caused by a defective balustrade.
Owners’ corporations have a duty of care to building users, therefore it is wise for owners’ corporations to upgrade balustrades to meet the current NCC requirements.