Your home (as in your primary, owner-occupied home) is probably the most used thing you own, if you really stop to consider it.
However, as we move away from an owner-occupied dwelling, we see higher risk situations.
A tenant-occupied dwelling is considered a higher risk because insurance carriers assume the tenants don’t maintain the house as well as the owner would. In some cases, they’re certainly right and in other cases, they are not. Unfortunately, the process of risk management and insurance precedents comes from decades of claims histories that show moderately unfavourable losses.
We also see the risk skyrocket when considering a property that is entirely vacant with the owner having no concrete plans to rent or sell. A vacant property of any kind causes hesitance with insurance carriers because if a fire starts or a pipe bursts, the damage can become widespread throughout the whole house. This means a larger payout and, ultimately, much more to fix.
Strata and Body Corporates
Commercial premises, units, apartments and townhouses operating under a community title scheme (sometimes also known as 'strata title') have a body corporate (BC).
The property owners or BC will have duties under the WHS Act if it falls under the description of a ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ (PCBU)
Where the body corporate engages any worker (or self employed person) as an employee, it will be treated as a PCBU and owe the following duties as a PCBU
Although the BC may have no involvement with the work activity being done by employers or others at the premises on a daily basis, if some control is retained over the premises or access to the premises then a duty applies. Areas where you may have control and a duty include, lighting, entrances and exits, footpaths, stairways, car parks, loading bays, common foyers and gardens, elevators and escalators, plant such as cardboard balers, air conditioning systems, toilets, lifts and escalators Control may also extend to areas such as asbestos management and the installation and maintenance of fall prevention anchorage points. If you are also an employer you have a duty of care to your own employees and others who may be affected by the work undertaken by your employees.
Risks for Building Owners, statutory obligations, which have penalties including fines and jail terms apply to the BC and Common Law suits for negligence can be made if the first element of a negligence action is to prove a duty of care exists and the claimant can show that the defendant has breached that duty.
Under the Model Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (WA) PCBU have a number of obligations. Generally, have duties to maintain environments that are safe and without risk to health
Safety Management Plans and Risk Assessments are best practice health and safety plans in developing comprehensive methods for ensuring that consultations have taken place, assessments are made on the property and the related activities around the property. (See our Services and Pricing page for more details)
INVESTMENT PROPERTY RISKS TO CONSIDER
Is plant life blocking visibility of the property
by passers-by or impeding safe entry
or exit from the property by vehicles or
Overgrown plants can affect entry and exit by
potentially causing trips, creating fire hazards
and increasing the risk of car accidents or
collisions between drivers and pedestrians. In
addition plants can create a visibility barrier,
presenting a possible security risk.
Are car parks and footpaths lit during night
Navigation of car parks and footpaths at night
without adequate lighting can cause hazards as
members are unable to see where they are going
and what is in front of them
Is there security lighting in place and are
there lights on throughout the night?
Include details about the type of lighting in the
additional comments field.
Security lighting is an effective form of
protection for most buildings.
Are paths and/or walkways free from trip
hazards and other obstacles?
Navigation around trip hazards and other
obstacles can put members at risk of injury.
Clear paths and walkways enable smooth access
to the property.
Is there disabled access into the facility
It is a requirement for properties to have access
for disabled members. It may be classed as
discrimination if this service is not provided.
Are any windows cracked or broken?
General maintenance such as this directly relates
to the security of the property. It also reflects
Do all doors and windows open easily and
Members can be put at risk of injury if they
have to exert force to open and close windows.
Windows which are not secure also present a
Are floor surfaces even, level and free from
trip and slip hazards?
Floor surfaces which are not
properly maintained can created hazards for
slips, trips and falls.
Are the internal/external steps/staircases
in good condition and fitted with anti-slip
It is important to ensure that steps and handrails
are steady and free from cracks, flaking paint etc.
as instability and disrepair cause risk to users.
Anti-slip tread prevents slipping on wet surfaces.
Are handrails or balustrades installed where
required (i.e. on stairs or balconies with a fall
of more than one metre)?
Handrails must be installed on all staircases or
balconies that have a fall of more than one metre.
They should also be installed to assist elderly/
physically impaired members to climb stairs
and/or ramps and to prevent them from being
put at risk of injury and well maintained
Are all aisles, exits and access ways clear of
Navigation around obstructions in aisles and
access ways can put members at risk of slips,
trips and falls. Aisles and access ways must be
kept clear of obstructions.
Are ceilings and walls in good repair (no
water leakage, flaking paint, mould or
Flaking paint, mould and mildew contain
potentially harmful contaminants which can be
inhaled, exacerbating existing conditions (such
as asthma) or causing illness.
Are floor surfaces, carpets or mats in good condition?
Poor maintenance of floor surfaces (holes and tears in carpets, mats, vinyl) can create trip hazards and potentially put members at risk of injury.
Have gutters been cleaned in the past six
Obstructions can prevent the flow of water
through the gutters and downpipes, resulting
in damage such as gutters rusting, clogged
downpipes and internal water leaks. In addition
to reducing the effective life of the guttering,
litter can increase the risk of fire spreading to
buildings in bushfire-prone areas.
Are building materials, timber pallets,
cardboard, loose boards, bricks or tiles stored
anywhere on the property?
Materials stored on the property can create
potential hazards for members and young
children. Combustible materials stored outside a
building have been used by arsonists to destroy
property. Storing such materials inside sheds or
buildings improves defences against arson and
If property is air-conditioned, are filters and
vents regularly cleaned?
If not regularly cleaned, contaminants and
dust particles can escape into the air and cause
illness or exacerbate existing medical conditions
such as asthma. Failure to clean the filters and
vents can also result in a decline of the system’s
effectiveness and increased power costs.
If applicable is any plant and equipment (elevators, cooling towers, swimming pools, etc) regularly inspected?
Many plant and equipment items have regulatory requirements for regular maintenance, inspections and compliance requires including risk assessments.
Is a residual current device (RCD) or safety
switch installed on each building?
Safety switches play a vital role in protecting
your members and other users of your facilities
from electrocution. All buildings should be
protected by a safety switch.
If applicable are there illuminated exit signs or
emergency lights installed in buildings?
If you do not have emergency lighting, use
the additional comments field to detail your
measures to ensure a safe evacuation during
an evening meeting.
Illuminated exits and emergency lighting
systems are designed and installed as an
essential safety measure. They clearly identify
escape routes and provide visibility during
power failure. It is important to note that the
emergency lighting needs to be tested regularly.
If it fails to work you are putting members at