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I have recently bought a unit in a rough area. The front door to the apartment complex does not click shut properly so anyone from the general public can walk in. The door to my unit has one of those cheap push button door handle locks.

I have spoken to the body corporate and the building manager and there are currently no plans to fix the apartment complex door.

I asked about adding some more security to the door of my unit, namely a good quality (fire rated) deadlock. But they replied back that deadlocks are not permitted for fire and aesthetic reasons, even locks that are fire rated.

What is the legality of prohibiting deadlocks?

Are fire rated deadlocks permitted legally on fire exits?

They mentioned something about fire safety laws changing in 2019 but I didn't get a full understanding. Is this documented anywhere?

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National Construction Code

For Class 2 Buildings (apartments) the relevant volume is No 2.

Door hardware on fire doors must comply with AS 1905.1 (Specification C3.4 Clause 2), that is, it has to be "fire-rated". There are plenty of fire-rated deadlocks available.

Normally, a door in a path of travel to an exit cannot be key operated in the direction of travel, however, there are a number of exceptions. One is if it "serves only, or is within— (A) a sole-occupancy unit in a Class 2 building" - like yours.

So there is no regulatory obstacle to this.

Strata Law

The door (and its hardware) is part of the common property - it belongs to the body corporate, not you. Technically, you own the paint on the inside, they own everything else. So, even if you paid for the lock, it would belong to the body-corporate and they would bear all the risk of loss and damage including if it wasn't installed properly. They may be unwilling to take this risk.

They can legally prevent you from doing anything to their property.

However, you can insist that the body-corporate repair the front door. Having "no plans" is not an excuse for failing in their legal duty to repair and maintain the common property. If they refuse, you can use the dispute resolution process.

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