Smoke Alarms Australia has been working with Real Estate Agents across the country for over 14 years, helping to get Landlords compliant to relevant state smoke alarm legislation. Smoke alarms provide early warning and give the best opportunity to save lives, reducing the risk to the property and protecting investments. Making a property compliant should not be taken lightly.
There are many types of smoke alarms, and essentially the terminology you need to know is photoelectric or ionisation, hard-wired, radio frequency or battery operated. Photoelectric alarms are recommended by most Fire Services as they are quicker to detect smoke and don’t function using small amounts of radiation. Read our news piece explaining smoke alarm types.
Hard-wired alarms are wired to the properties electrical system and have a battery back up in case there is service outage. Radio frequency alarms interconnect through a radio signal and have a 10-year lithium battery as back up. Battery based alarms are used also, but, are not to be installed in any property under 2022 legislation in Queensland.
Bugs and dust are a great concern for ongoing smoke alarm maintenance. Some alarms have a double bug screen, making the alarm more reliable, reducing opportunities for bugs to enter the smoke detection chamber. The double screen could also reduce the amount of servicing required and minimise the risk of false beeping alarms experienced by a tenant.
The correct servicing of smoke alarms is also important and contributes to the longevity of the alarm. A push button test on the alarm only tests that the alarm has connected power. Testing with artificial smoke, cleaning the alarms, checking alarm positioning and expiry dates is an integral part of the testing process.
Queensland has endured some of the worst house fires in history with multiple loss of life over the years. The legislation in Queensland was recently changed to help prevent future home fire disasters. From 1st January 2022, all smoke alarms in rental properties must be photoelectric and interconnected, compliant with AS3786:2014, installed on each storey of the property, in all bedrooms and hallways, powered by mains power or non-removable 10-year lithium battery. Click here for more information from QFES.
For more information to make properties compliant in the lead up to 2022, click below.
As an Agent your landlords will have many questions on property compliance and answers to the top 3 questions are below:
Question 1: Am I legally required to have my smoke alarms serviced by a professional company?
No, but you are legally required to ensure smoke alarms are functioning correctly at the commencement of every tenancy and are in good working order.
Question 2: My property is on a strata plan – Aren’t I already covered
Strata Managers are charged with the responsibility at a council level to make buildings compliant to local fire and safety regulations. This does not mean the property is compliant to the state legislation. Quite often, Strata companies only test a sample of the properties in a block, so all properties may not be inspected, risking individual property compliance. Some areas potentially missed by Strata include:
The correct quantity, quality and positioning of smoke alarms are installed (Ref: Building code of Australia)
The alarms are not expired (Ref: Australian Standards 3786)
Full function tests are completed, not just a battery test
Alarms are not cleaned, increasing the risk of a beeping alarm
Strata companies do not issue individual certificates of compliance and as they generally only conduct maintenance every 12 months, and most will not come back during the year to deal with individual problems, or changes of tenancy if the property is tenanted.
Question 3: What is my duty of care?
Rental properties must be compliant to the relevant legislation and it is the Landlord who is held accountable through their duty of tenant care. Legislation varies from state to state, but the common theme is the requirement to install, test and maintain smoke alarms in rental properties annually.
Simply, smoke alarms are required to be installed and or serviced and maintained;
At the commencement of any new tenancy agreement
Annually (as per the manufacturer’s warranty)
At alarm malfunction
It is the property manager’s responsibility to ensure Landlords are sufficiently covered and the obligation to maintain smoke alarms in between each tenancy is fulfilled.