A NEW Zealand case involving a fire at a property with no smoke detectors fitted is a strong reminder for Australian landlords to become familiar with requirements in their state or territory. 

Photo: Stuff.co.nz

A New Zealand property owner made news this week, likely to face court after a rental property, where fire investigators said they could find no working smoke alarms, caught fire.

According to a report on Stuff.co.nz, the property on the Hibiscus Coast, north of Auckland, caught fire last Thursday night while the tenants were at home.

The property owner could be facing court action as the first landlord to face prosecution under law changes to New Zealand’s Residential Tenancy Act, which came into effect on July 1.

The case acts as a strong reminder for Australian landlords to ensure their smoke alarms are working and become familiar with the requirements in their state or territory.

While compliance regulations, laws and penalties associated with smoke detectors do vary across Australia, every state and territory has mandatory requirements for smoke detectors in rental properties.

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.

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.

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.

State and territory links

WA: Department of Fire and Emergency Services
QLD: Queensland Government website
NSW: Fire and Rescue NSW
VIC: Consumer Affairs Victoria
SA: SA.gov.au
NT: Northern Territory Fire and Rescue Service
ACT: ACT Emergency Services Agency
TAS: Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading