If you own an investment property, it’s a good idea to set a regular reminder to ensure your smoke alarms are working.
Cooler temperatures bring a greater risk of house fires. In 2015, there were 606 accidental house fires in Western Australia alone, which resulted in millions of dollars in damage and countless injuries. *
Although the compliance regulations, laws and penalties associated with smoke detectors vary across the nation, every state and territory has mandatory requirements for smoke detectors in rental properties.
Rent.com.au landlord services manager Zoran Tomich said this was a timely reminder for landlords to make sure they are familiar (and compliant) with the requirements in their state or territory.
“Not only can failure to comply with the legislation result in large fines and property damage, but it can also lead to injury and loss of life in the worst of circumstances,” Mr Tomich said.
What is a compliant smoke alarm?
Landlords must ensure that the smoke alarm(s) in their rental properties comply with any Building Code of Australia (‘BCA’) that may have been applicable at the time of installation of the alarms, are less than 10 years old, are in good working order and where required – permanently connected to mains power.
Only having battery powered smoke alarms can be acceptable in some circumstances (e.g. where there is no space to run hidden wiring and/or there is no alternative) but doing so simply because it is convenient might not comply with legislative requirements and expose landlords to enormous liability risk.
Is there a requirement to maintain smoke alarms?
Landlords who rent out their property must, to the extent practicable, ensure they meet minimum requirements relating to items such as the smoke alarms being in working order, having a permanent power supply where required, not being too old or expired, and having the correct batteries fitted, amongst other things.
Mr Tomich said it was good practice for landlords to keep a record when the smoke alarms will need replacing:
“The various fire and emergency services departments can provide information on recommended maintenance routines for smoke detectors and your tenant may be willing to help carry out those duties,” he said.
Are there penalties involved?
Yes. Where the dwelling does not comply with the smoke alarm requirements under the Regulations, a local government may issue an infringement notice, or the local government may prosecute an owner for non-compliance. Penalties can range from $750 through to $5,000 depending on the state or territory.
*WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services (April 2016).
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