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As a property investor, it’s important that you understand the rules and regulations for smoke alarms in any properties you own.
This isn’t as simple as it sounds, because the standards you need to meet to protect your tenants differ depending on the state your property is located in.
The smoke alarm regulations in your state also evolve over time, not simply to cost you money and give you another thing to keep up-to-date with – but to keep your tenants safe.
Here’s a quick overview of how to ensure your properties are compliant with the current regulations in your state.
The Fire and Emergency Services (Domestic Smoke Alarms) Amendment Act 2016 (Qld) effective from 1 January 2017 and imposes additional obligations on property owners with regards to the installation and maintenance of smoke alarms at domestic dwellings.
Some of the new regulations call for smoke alarms to be installed in every bedroom, and in hallways.
Queenslanders may have felt the recent financial pressure from a shift in standards – but they need not worry just yet.
If their existing smoke alarms were manufactured less than 10 years ago, and are still in good working order, they will comply with the new legislative requirements.
In fact, most of the new requirements will not be in effect until 2022. So, while compliance with these regulations is imperative, the time pressures at this stage do not present an issue.
However, it is important for property owners to understand the new requirements and the timeframes that apply.
From January 1 2017, owners must make sure:
The new legislation will have further implications on property owners, with more requirements for compliance effective from early 2022.
You can always find out more about the new smoke alarm legislation from Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, or you can contact your property manager for some helpful advice.
Smoke alarms must be installed in all Victorian houses, units, flats and townhouses – and landlords are responsible for fitting smoke alarms in rented properties.
Hardwired smoke alarms with a battery back-up must be installed in all buildings constructed after 1 August 1997. Buildings constructed before that date can have a battery-powered smoke alarm.
Rooming houses (buildings where one or more rooms are available to rent, and four or more people in total can occupy those rooms) must have hardwired smoke alarms.
For more information on testing, maintaining and replacing smoke alarms, visit the Metropolitan Fire Brigade’s website.
For more information on your responsibilities with regards to smoke alarms, see the Victorian government website.
Otherwise, feel free to contact your property manager for advice on ensuring your compliance with the regulations.
In New South Wales, the responsibilities of landlords and tenants under the Residential Tenancies Act are clearly outlined.
For further information, you can visit the New South Wales government website, or get in touch with your property manager today.
In Tasmania, smoke alarms must comply with the Australian Standard (AS3786-1993 Smoke Alarms).
Hard wired smoke alarms must be installed by a qualified electrician. This person must be aware of all the relevant Standards relating to the installation.
More information is available from Standards Australia, or you can contact your property manager for helpful advice.
It has been the law under the Building Code of Australia (BCA), since 1997, to install mains powered smoke alarms in new properties and any existing properties that have undergone significant renovations.
From 1 October 2009, mains powered smoke alarms must be fitted in all existing residential buildings prior to sale and when a new tenancy agreement is signed for rental properties. If there are no tenancy changes in rental properties, then mains powered smoke alarms must have been fitted by 1 October 2011.
These requirements are mandatory under the Local Government (Miscellaneous provisions) Act 1960 section 248 and the Local Government Act 1995 section 9.60, and the Building Amendments Regulations 2009.
While mains powered smoke alarms are the preferred alternative, smoke alarms with a non-removable ten-year battery life are permitted in dwellings where the construction of the building does not permit a space to conceal the wiring and there is no other suitable alternative location or where mains power supply is not available.
You can find more information on the government website, or you can get in touch with your property manager to discuss compliance needs.
The NT Government announced changes to the Fire and Emergency Regulations to mandate working smoke alarms in all NT residences as of 1 November 2011.
Now, all residential properties must have a working smoke alarm.
If you already have a working ionization smoke alarm installed, you do not have to change to a photoelectric smoke alarm until one of the following occurs:
In the instance of a tenancy change, renewed lease or sale of property, a landlord or seller must ensure that a working photoelectric smoke alarm is installed.
The responsibility for ensuring the alarm in a tenanted property is maintained in working order is that of the tenant.
You can find more information here, or you can contact your property manager.
The Development Act 1993 requires smoke alarms must be installed on every storey, they must be located between each part of the dwelling containing bedrooms and the remainder of the dwelling. Smoke alarms must also be installed in any hallway leading to the bedrooms. Landlords must comply with smoke alarm legislation in all residential rental properties including detached houses, villa units, sole occupancy units, guest houses and hostels.
The type of smoke alarm you require depends on when you purchased your home or the age of your home.
For homes or residential rental properties that are purchased before 1 February 1998 you are required to fit a replaceable battery powered smoke alarm.
For homes or residential rental properties purchased on or after 1 February 1998, regulation requires a smoke alarm (or smoke alarms) to be fitted within six months from the day on which the title is transferred and be either a 240 volt, mains-powered smoke alarm or a 10-year life, non-replaceable, non-removable, permanently connected battery powered smoke alarm.
For homes or residential rental properties built on or after 1 January 1995 the Building Code of Australia requires a 240 volt, mains powered smoke alarm.
You can find more information here.
Remember that your property manager is always happy to help, and will strive to keep you informed of your responsibilities pending any changes to regulations.
Talk to them today for advice on ensuring your compliance with the relevant regulations in your state.
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