Australian law states that each residential premises must have at least one working smoke detector on each level of the premises. This includes all residential premises including: owner occupied, apartments, rental properties, any form of shared accommodation and relocatable homes.
The smoke detector must comply with Australian Stardard AS3786 in that the occupants of buildings must be protected while they are sleeping. Depending on what class of building you have will determine where the detector is to be placed.
The duty of care for the smoke detector has been placed on the landlord, pushing the test button and replacing the battery does not constitute testing. The detector is to be tested in accordance with AS3786. Certification that the detector works under a fire situation is deemed a formal test.
Key Changes To Smoke Alarm Requirements For Rented Homes
New regulations effective March 2020 due to changes in residential tenancy regulations (NSW)
- An annual smoke alarm service is now mandatory
- Landlords are now responsible for the urgent repair/replacement of smoke alarms
- Landlords are now responsible for the replacement of batteries
- Landlords are now obligated to replace alarms as per manufacturers instructions
Under certain circumstances tenants can manage their own smoke alarm requirements, eg they can change the battery but must notify the landlord they are doing so and must re notify when they have completed.
From 23 March 2020, NSW landlords and agents need to ensure that smoke alarms installed in rented properties are in working order.
Requirements for landlords and agents
- Where a smoke alarm is not in working order, landlords and agents must ensure the alarm is repaired (this includes replacing a battery) within 2 business days.
- Landlords and agents must check smoke alarms every year to ensure they are working.
- Landlords and agents must ensure:
- Smoke alarms are replaced within 10 years of manufacture, or earlier if specified by the manufacturer
- batteries are installed or replaced every year (or for lithium batteries, in the period specified by the manufacturer).
- Landlords and agents must give at least 2 business days’ notice to inspect or assess the need for smoke alarm repair or replacement, and at least 1 hour notice to carry out repair or replacement of a smoke alarm.
Requirements for tenants
Tenants must notify their landlord or agent if they discover that a smoke alarm is not working (this includes when the battery needs to be changed).
Tenants must notify their landlord when they change a battery in a smoke alarm or engage a licensed electrician to repair or replace an alarm. The different circumstances where a tenant can change a battery or engage a licensed electrician are provided in the table below. This does not apply to social housing tenants.
Reimbursement for repairsA tenant is entitled to reimbursement within 7 days after giving written notice of relevant expenses. The notice must detail the nature and cost of repairs together with copies of receipts or invoices. This does not apply to social housing tenants.
For more information on specific requirements for certain types of alarms please refer to the Fair Trading Guidelines.
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