Smoke Alarms: What you need to know

 

In most states across Australia, smoke alarms complying with Australian Standards must be fitted in all rental properties and in accordance with the Building Code of Australia.

What’s the law in NSW on smoke alarms in rental properties?

Under Division 7A of Part 9 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000, smoke alarms must be installed in all buildings in NSW where people sleep. The smoke alarms must meet the requirements of Australian Standard AS 3786, Smoke Alarms. These provisions came into effect on 1 May 2006.

The EPA Regulation requires that smoke alarms:

• comply with Australian Standard AS 3786; and

• be installed on or near the ceiling in the following areas:

    - in any storey containing bedrooms: in every corridor or hallway associated with a bedroom or, if there is no corridor or hallway, between the part of the home containing the bedroom and rest of the dwelling; and

    - in any storey not containing bedrooms.

    - Additionally, the Building Code of Australia requires smoke alarms to be installed in egress paths in any storey not containing bedrooms and that, where there is more than one alarm installed in a home, they should be interconnected.

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Landlords

  • Landlords must ensure that smoke alarms are installed and maintained, if section 146A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW) requires them to be installed.
  • Neither the landlord nor the tenant are permitted to remove or interfere with the operation of a smoke alarm installed in the rented premises, unless they have a reasonable excuse to do so.
  • Where a smoke alarm has a replaceable battery, the landlord must put a new battery in at the commencement of a tenancy.
  • After the tenancy begins, the tenant is responsible for replacing the battery, if needed, in battery-operated smoke alarms. Hard-wired smoke alarm back-up batteries are to be replaced by the landlord.
  • If the tenant is physically unable to change the battery the tenant is required to notify the landlord as soon as practicable.
  • The condition report section of the tenancy agreement must include a specific reference to smoke alarms so that tenants and landlords are able to note and comment on the presence of smoke alarms at the beginning and end of the tenancy.

What are the landlord’s responsibilities?

  • Landlords have the right of access to rented premises to fit smoke alarms after giving the tenant at least two days notice.
  • Landlords are responsible for supplying the smoke alarm(s) and for their installation. You will also be required to install a new battery for each smoke alarm at the commencement of each new tenancy.
  • Landlords must give their tenants the manufacturer’s instructions on how to clean, test and replace batteries for smoke alarms (in SA it is the landlord’s responsibility to clean, test and replace batteries unless otherwise stated in the Tenancy Agreement).
  • The landlord is responsible for the replacement of batteries in ‘hard-wired’ smoke alarm systems that have battery back-up.
  • At no time can the landlord remove or relocate the smoke alarm unless it is being replaced or maintained.
  • At no time can the landlord do anything to interfere with the alarm’s warning sound.
  • At no time can the landlord remove the batteries unless they are replacing them.
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Tenants

  • NSW legislation mandates that your landlord is responsible for ensuring your residence meets the minimum requirement of having at least one working smoke alarm installed on every level of your home. 
  • Landlords are responsible for the installation of smoke alarms in rented premises.
  • Landlords have the right of access to rented premises to fit smoke alarms after giving the tenant at least two days’ notice.
  • After the tenancy begins, the tenant is responsible for replacing the battery, if needed, in battery-operated smoke alarms. Hard-wired smoke alarm back-up batteries are to be replaced by the landlord.
  • If the tenant is physically unable to change the battery the tenant is required to notify the landlord as soon as practicable.

What are the tenant’s responsibilities?

  • Tenants are responsible for cleaning, testing and the replacement of batteries in battery powered smoke alarms (Except SA, Landlords are responsible unless otherwise stated in the Tenancy Agreement).
  • At no time can a tenant remove or relocate the smoke alarm or do anything to interfere with the alarm’s warning sound.
  • At no time can the tenant remove the batteries unless they are replacing them.
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References:

Article by C. Bailey, 12 Sept 2019 in realestate.com.au

Article by NSW Fire and Rescue

Real Estate Institute of NSW: Smoke Alarms Report