Landlords have several obligations to uphold when ensuring a property is up to scratch. Whether it is to do with the living condition of tenants or legal obligations to tenants, landlords have a number of things to cross off their ‘liveable property list’. Usually, the best opportunity for a landlord to give their property a review and some upkeep is when there is a change of tenancy or a renewal of lease. One of the obligations that need to be addressed during this time is their properties' smoke alarm maintenance. What might be perceived as a simple install and test between contracts is actually a thorough process of building codes and legal acts that form the overall smoke alarm compliance for landlords’ properties. To help shed some light, we have broken down the many smoke alarm requirements that need to occur at change of tenancy or lease renewal.
Quantity and quality
Serviced smoke alarm
The Building Code of Australia states that a there should be a correct amount of smoke alarms to fit the size and layout of the property. Meaning, if the property has multiple levels, multiple bedrooms and/or multiple hallways and entry paths, then the property would need multiple smoke alarms to be installed. The alarm needs to be in working order with no default and fresh battery installed upon new or renewed tenancy.
In line with any new tenancy agreement, smoke alarms need to be serviced and/or fitted before the start of tenancy as part of the Residential Tenancy Act. Proper servicing and testing of alarm functionality creates a peace of mind and security for your tenant and your property.
Position of smoke alarms is crucial in ensuring alarm is in the best location to detect smoke. Some of the legal requirements for alarm positioning falls around these parameters.
What is good positioning?
What is bad positioning?
- In halls and spaces outside bedrooms
- In paths that direct to exit points of a property
- In location visible to tenants
- On every floor of a property (if multi-storied).
- In kitchens, bathrooms or spaces that have build up of smoke or steam
- Near windows or well-ventilated areas
- In outside spaces
- Installed in dead air spaces
(click here to learn about dead air space piece).
New Batteries for a new start
Australian Standard 3786 specifies that expiration date of smoke alarm(s) in a property must be checked to ensure they aren’t expired upon new or renewed tenancy.
Just as a new tenant or a new contract is reached, a new smoke alarm battery should be installed so that property falls in line with the Residential Tenancy Act.
Smoke alarms, whether new or maintained, need to go through testing to ensure the battery is functioning, the sensitivity of alarm detector is accurate and the alarm is reacting to smoke.
Smoke alarms must have clear ventilation paths to allow air to travel through the alarm freely. Dust build-up and insects may interfere with an alarms ability to properly detect smoke.
The Residential Tenancies Regulation (2010) states that the overall liability for properties' smoke alarms to meet all the above points falls under the responsibility of the landlord of the property. This is important to understand as the assumption of STRATA’s smoke alarm servicing falling under meeting these needs is untrue and could leave a landlord liable should fire or smoke installation occur in a property and confusion of who is responsible makes landlord accountable.
What can you do?
Regulate your smoke alarm compliance upon every newly established contract
Turning these parameters into a fixed process could help in keeping you prepared for maintaining smoke alarms for new and renewed tenancies. Make a checklist from the above points and review this list upon every tenancy change or renewal. Keeping on top of properties' smoke alarms will help in making sure you are covering all grounds that could make you liable.
Call Smoke Alarms Australia
What you get from the Smoke Alarms Australia program.
- Landlord, agent and tenant protection from liability, fire and/or smoke hazard
- Smoke alarm coverage for your properties year round
(unlimited call out for alarms including for change of tenancy and lease renewal)
- Alarms serviced to building codes and legislative standards to remove liability risk
- Customer support for your alarm needs and even for beeping alarm support.