PROPERTY owners are being urged to inspect their balconies for faults following a fatal balcony collapse in Melbourne’s east last week.

City of Greater Geelong workers investigated 22 balconies in the region between 2016-17, however no balcony collapses were reported to the city over the past two years.

Deakin School of Architecture and Built Environment teaching scholar John Kite said homeowners and tenants who had a balcony should pay attention to the growing problem of unstable balconies.

“This is unfortunately not an uncommon event, especially with the gathering of people and celebrations at this time of year,” Mr Kite said.

“Homeowners and tenants need to make sure if they do have a balcony or deck that the structure is in good condition and any maintenance that’s required is quickly attended to.

“This is particularly important with balconies that are older and incorporate timber structures.”

Mr Kite said owners and tenants should be vigilant with periodic inspections.

The city’s Director Planning and Development, Kelvin Walsh, said commercial building owners were responsible for maintaining their balconies and ensuring they were safe for patrons and fit for purpose.

“To assist the maintenance of balconies, the city has provided a `check your deck’ section on its website,” Mr Walsh said.

Copies of the Building Commission’s Maintenance of Balconies brochure are also available at the council’s customer service centre.

In February, Clifton Springs man Mike Ingleton was left shocked, but mainly uninjured, when his balcony collapsed beneath him.

Mr Kite urged residents not to overload balcony structures with excessive weights such as large groups of people, heavy furniture or appliances like fridges.

“For tenants who are concerned, they should contact their real estate property managers, and for homeowners in a unit complex, the best contact is your body corporate office,” Mr Kite said.

“Fatigue and wear are often easy to spot, even to the untrained eye.”

Maurice Blackburn lawyers Senior Associate Trang van Heuton said a Frankston tenant recently successfully pursued a public liability claim after he was seriously injured when the balcony of a rental property collapsed. His compensation claim was successful because the previous tenant’s rental property condition report noted that the balcony featured rotted wood. The landlord did replace some beams prior to our client moving in, but the repairs were shoddy.

Cheryl Taylor, 59, of Croydon, was one of two women killed in Saturday’s Doncaster East accident. Seventeen other people were hurt.

About 10.30pm, 30 guests at the Tupperware party were gathering on the balcony of the two-storey Balinga Court home for a group photo when the overloaded floorboards collapsed, sending them all crashing to the ground.

Olivia Shying, Geelong Advertiser

December 21, 2017 12:00am