Smoke Alarms in Investment Properties – Are You Protected?

(Transcript)

Hi, I’m Victoria Cavello, Head of Investment Management for DiJONES Real Estate. Winter is fast approaching and of course that means more use of heaters and electric blankets which increases the risk of house fires. So now more than ever it is absolutely imperative that as an investor you ensure that your property has working and fully compliant smoke alarms as per New South Wales legislation.

So what is a landlord’s responsibility when it comes to smoke alarms in a rental property? Well, there are three key pieces of legislation that outline a landlord’s areas of responsibility, and they are the Residential Tenancy’s Act and Regulations and the Environmental Planning an Assessment Act. Now these stipulate that it’s a landlord’s responsibility to maintain a working smoke alarm in a property at the beginning of a tenancy, throughout the duration of a tenancy, and also to treat any repair of a smoke alarm as an emergency repair. It also goes as far as to stipulate the finer detail. So it says where a smoke alarm needs to be located in a property, how many smoke alarms need to be present, the type of smoke alarm that needs to be used, and when they need to be replaced. Even the decibel level, the noise level of the smoke alarm.

So what is the simplest and most cost effective way for a landlord to ensure that you’re fully complaint and not at risk of liability when it comes to smoke alarms in your property? Well, at DiJONES  we are constantly sourcing the very best value and quality third party suppliers for our clients. When it comes to smoke alarms, our preferred supplier is a company called 360 Smoke Alarms. And as part of their service, they will visit your property at the start of every single tenancy, as well as annually and as well as on an ad hoc basis when needed. And they will ensure that all of those points of responsibility are covered off on for a landlord, and most importantly, they’ll supply us with a thorough compliance report including photos. That means that you are completely covered as a landlord in terms of your responsibility.

Now this service costs $99 a year, which is great because as an investor you can budget.

If you’d like to know more about this visit our website www.dijones.com.au or contact your dedicated investment manager. Thank you.

 

 

What are your legal obligations around smoke alarms?

As a property owner:

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.

As a landlord:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act, a Landlords obligation is to install and maintain smoke alarms is outlined in the Residential Tenancies Regulations 2010 – schedule 1, Clause 4 (1) 38. & 39.

“38. The landlord agrees to ensure that smoke alarms are installed and maintained in the residential premises in accordance with section 146A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 if that section requires them to be installed in the premises.

39. The landlord and tenant each agree not to remove or interfere with the operation of a smoke alarm installed on the residential premises unless they have a reasonable excuse to do so.”

Section 146A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 states;

  146A   Smoke alarms in buildings providing sleeping accommodation

  1. (1)  The regulations may make provision for or with respect to:
    (a)  the installation of one or more smoke alarms in buildings in which persons sleep, and
    (b)  the maintenance of smoke alarms installed in such buildings, and
    (c)  prohibiting persons from removing or interfering with the operation of smoke alarms installed in such buildings.
  2. Regulations made under this section may (without limitation) do any one or more of the following:
    (a)  specify the types of buildings in which smoke alarms are to be installed,
    (b)  specify the types of smoke alarms to be installed,
    (c)  specify where a smoke alarm is to be located,
    (d)  specify the maintenance that may be required in relation to a smoke alarm that has been installed,
    (e)  specify circumstances in which development consent under Part 4 is not required in relation to the installation of a smoke alarm,
    (f)  specify circumstances in which the consent of an owners corporation (within the meaning of the strata schemes management act 1996) is not required in relation to the installation of a smoke alarm.
  3. A person must not contravene a provision of a regulation made under this section.
    Maximum penalty: 5 penalty units.
  4. In this section:
    Building includes a manufactured home, a moveable dwelling or associated structure and includes a building erected before.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

“My Strata Managers arrange a fire safety inspection every year. Doesn’t this mean my property is compliant?”

Unfortunately no!

Fire Inspection companies are only required to inspect 70% of apartments in a block to be able to certify a building compliant as per Strata requirements. Even if your unit IS one of the 70% inspected, the inspection company usually won’t issue an individual property compliance certificate, and also because they do not necessarily check all of the required components that a Landlord is responsible for; expiry date of alarm, decibels, locations of alarms etc.

“I have other expenses right now. Can I save money by not doing this?”

We understand the expenses involved in owning investment properties and the last thing we want is to add to this; however, in this instance the very small outlay far outweighs the risk. If there were a fire in your property and you were unable to prove that you had working and compliant smoke alarms at the time, you could be held liable and any insurance claim could also be called into question.

 

 

References:

Section 146A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979

https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/bills/1596326f-4c90-6d96-b576-fd9f3857c995

Residential tenancies regulation 2010 schedule 1

http://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_reg/rtr2010298/sch1.html

Environmental Planning and Assessment

environmental planning and assessment regulation 2000

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