Notification of pesticide use when pest management technicians treat multiple occupancy residential complexes
It is compulsory to notify people when pesticides are used by pesticide management technicians (that is professional pest controllers licensed by SafeWork NSW (formerly WorkCover)) in the common areas of multiple occupancy residential complexes.
These rules are based on the principle that people have a basic right to know when part of their place of residence is treated with pesticides. Notifying people about pesticide use means they can make informed decisions. Residents, for example, might choose to avoid a common area that has been recently treated. If they are aware that a pesticide application is about to take place, they can choose to close their windows or take in their washing.
Notifying residents about pesticide use before it happens does not mean that they can prevent the use of pesticides in the area. The aim of notification is to allow people to choose to reduce their exposure to pesticides if they wish.
This information sheet explains what strata managers or property managers and pest management technicians need to do to comply with the rules.
What does the law say?
Pest management technicians cannot treat common areas of multiple occupancy residential complexes with pesticides unless residents have been given notice. Notice must be given to residents before and during a pesticide application:
The person or company organising the treatment (for example, the strata manager, property manager and/or real estate agent) is responsible for giving residents at least 5 working days' notice before a pesticide application takes place.
Pest management technicians are responsible for giving residents notice while a pesticide application is under way.
What is a multiple occupancy residential complex?
Multiple occupancy residential complexes include:
- caravan parks with long-term residents
- other multiple occupancy domestic and residential complexes, but not dual occupancies.
A full definition of the residential complexes affected by the law is in Part 5 Division 3 of the Pesticides Regulation 2009.
What are common areas?
Common areas include foyers, hallways, stairwells, share laundries and car parks, but can also include roof cavities or underfloor space. They also include the exterior of a building and usually include gardens, pathways and fences.
What must I do to notify residents if I am a strata or property manager?
If you are a strata or property manager or are responsible for organising pest treatments at a multiple occupancy residential complex, you need to notify residents at least 5 working days before a pesticide is applied to any common areas. You must arrange to give notice:
- to each individual resident in person (or by fax, email, telephone or post), or
- by placing a written notice in each resident's letterbox, or under each resident's door, or
- by placing written notices on the main notice boards at the residential complex and at the main entrances and exits to each building in the complex.
Once you have given residents 5 working days' notice, you need to give your pest management technician the earliest date that they can start treating the complex with pesticides. Remember, if you don't take this step and a pest management technician applies pesticides before the legal notice period has passed, you could be fined.
You must keep a paper copy of any written notice you give. If notice is given by phone or in person, you must make a written diary entry recording the call or conversation and who you spoke to. The records must be kept for 3 years.
How do I notify residents if I am a pest management technician?
Before starting a job at a multiple occupancy residential complex, you need to give the strata or property manager all the details listed above about how and where you plan to use the pesticide.
Remember, before you can begin working on a job, you should confirm with the strata or property manager (or any other person who arranges the pest treatment) that all residents have been given at least 5 working days' notice about the use of pesticides in the complex.
When you are ready to commence the pest treatment, and before you begin applying the pesticide in any common area, you must notify residents of the pesticide used. The notice needs to be easily seen by residents. In practice, this means putting up a notice on the main notice boards and main entrances and exits to each building.
You must also put up a notice on the main entrance to the property if a pesticide will be applied to the outside of the building, or on paths, fences, gardens or other external areas.
The notice must continue to be displayed while the pesticide is being used and for the length of time during which the area should not be entered. If you are using a pesticide baiting program and notice has already been given of the program, you do not have to give extra notice for any second or subsequent installation of pesticides in baits if it is part of the ongoing baiting program.
What should the notice say?
Your notice should provide the same information covered in the notice put up by the strata or property manager. It should include:
- the name of the pesticide you are using, and
- why the pesticide is being used (e.g. what pests are being treated), and
- where the pesticide will be used in and around the complex, and
- the date or range of dates the pesticide is being used, and
- any re-entry requirements that are on the pesticide label or permit, and
- the contact details of the person, or office, applying the pesticide.
You can also add extra information if you wish. When you write up your report of having used pesticides at a multiple occupancy residential complex, you should make sure you include a record of the notice given to residents (that is, when and where you put up notices). You must keep a paper copy of the notice for at least 3 years after it is given.
You should have a copy of the relevant safety data sheet (SDS) for the pesticide that is being used, so residents can read it if they wish. If a resident requests an SDS from you, you must provide them with a copy. Failure to provide an SDS to a resident, if requested, is an offence.
Can I get help preparing a notice?
Yes. The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has developed simple templates for providing notice and example notices.
Blank notice templates
Copies of these templates can also be requested from Environment Line.
You do not have to use the notice template the EPA has developed – it has been provided as a guide only.
Example notices that show the kinds of information that need to be included are contained in the industry guidance fact sheets for:
- Pesticide use notification by owners, strata managers and property managers (130768FSPestOwn.pdf, 230KB)
- Pesticide use notification by pest management technicians (130767FSPestMgmt.pdf, 210 KB).
What about emergency situations?
If a pest emergency occurs and pesticides need to be used in any common area of a multiple occupancy residential complex, then it is not necessary for strata or property managers to give residents prior notice, but it is still necessary for the pest management technician to give notice immediately prior to the application of the pesticide. A sudden infestation of dangerous, biting or stinging pests such as rodents, wasps, bees, venomous spiders and bird mites would be regarded as a pest emergency.
In such situations the pest management technician (not the property manager) must still give notice to residents before the application occurs. Notice should be given in the manner described previously (putting up notices on notice boards and at entrances) and a record of the notice given to residents should be kept. The pests must be biting or dangerous for it to be considered an emergency.
What happens if the requirements are ignored?
If a pesticide is applied in any common area of a multiple occupancy residential complex without notice being given to residents, on-the-spot penalty notice fines of $800 for corporations or $400 for individuals may apply. For serious offences, court-imposed fines of up to $44,000 could apply to corporations and fines of up to $22,000 could apply to individuals.
Where can I get more information?
You can view and download fact sheets dealing with specific notification responsibilities for arranging and carrying out pesticide applications to multiple occupancy residential complexes on the Notification of pesticide use webpage (see Help to prepare a notice) or request copies by calling Environment Line. If you are not sure whether this law affects you, EPA staff will be happy to advise you. See the Pesticides Regulation 2009 for full details on notification requirements.
Page last updated: 13 October 2016