05 Mar National Smoke Alarm Day
We’re now a month away from the 1st April – National Smoke Alarm Day; a time to check that the smoke alarms are in working order.
What are your obligations as a landlord?
1. Ensure that the smoke alarms installed in the property are compliant with your state’s legislation.
2. There has to be a sufficient amount of smoke alarms installed in your rental and in the right locations. Authorities recommend having an alarm in every bedroom and every hallway. If you have a multi-storey dwelling make sure there are alarms on every floor. It is not necessary to put an alarm in the kitchen due to the risk of false alarms.
3. Smoke alarms should be tested at the start of every tenancy, or on an annual basis (if the tenancy extends longer than 12 months). If you have battery operated alarms the battery should be replaced at the start of every tenancy. This is mandatory is some states.
4. Make sure the alarm’s warning sound is not interfered with.
5. Replacing a smoke alarm must be done before they reach the end of their service life (which is generally 10 years).
Note: when checking alarms in your rental make sure you have the correct entry notice before entering the property.
What are the tenant’s obligations?
Tenants should be cleaning and dusting the smoke alarm, and replacing the batteries if the smoke alarm isn’t hard-wired. If the alarm is hard-wired with a battery back-up you as the landlord will need to replace the battery.
Note: If you’re in SA landlords are responsible for all cleaning and changing of smoke alarm batteries (unless stated in the tenancy agreement).
The tenant cannot remove or relocate a smoke alarm (unless they’re changing the batteries), or interfere with the smoke alarm’s sound.
Let your tenants know to notify you if they can’t change the batteries. If the alarm is in a hard to reach spot – a very high ceiling for example, it is probably best that you take care of the maintenance rather than the tenant.
Remember your tenant can not refuse entry for smoke alarm maintenance.
What is the best type of smoke alarm to install?
Smoke alarms can either be photoelectric, or ionisation. They are categorised by the way they detect smoke in the house.
Photoelectric smoke alarms are better at detecting smouldering fires and fires that are away from the detector. Ionisation alarms are better for indicating flaming fires.
Emergency services recommend photoelectric smoke alarms are installed in halls between sleeping areas and main common rooms as these give the earliest warning of a fire. It is also recommended that the smoke alarms are interconnected.
There are smoke alarms available for the hearing impaired. These have a strobe light and/or a vibrating pad that can be placed under the pillow which activates when the alarm sounds and can be interconnected with conventional alarms in the premises.
You should keep a record your alarm testing with the date and the maintenance that was carried out. In some states there is a provision on the entry and routine property inspection reports to record all checks for your smoke alarms.
Given the possible ramifications if something goes wrong, it is well worth considering outsourcing this aspect of your property management. Smoke alarm maintenance services will ensure the alarms are compliant, sufficient for the size of the property, clean and working. The best companies will even issue the entry notice to the tenants. The cost of this service is tax deductible.
More information about the smoke alarm legislation in your state can be found below: