Smoke alarms in rental properties

Smoke Alarms in Rental Properties – What You Need to Know

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Smoke alarms in rental properties are serious business.  Indeed, smoke alarms in any properties are serious business!  Smoke alarms save lives.

Read our introductory guide here and bookmark the links we’ve provided for you.  Knowing your responsibilities, and what actions you can take with regards to smoke alarms, is everyone’s business.

Smoke Alarms in Rental Properties

There are responsibilities, no matter whether you are a landlord or a tenant.  It pays to keep up to date with the latest changes in the smoke alarm legislation for Queensland rental properties.

Firstly, it is important to know that there has been a recent change in Queensland smoke alarm laws.

From 1st Jan 2017 there have been changes introduced into the Queensland legislation for smoke alarms in rental properties.

Are you an owner of a Queensland rental property?  If so, it is important to know about the changes to the landlord responsibility for smoke alarms.  It is important to understand the new requirements for the installation and maintenance for smoke alarms in both old and new rental properties.  You must ensure you comply with the rules for landlord responsibility for smoke alarms.

But for tenants of Queensland rental properties, there are responsibilities also.  It is important to understand the smoke alarm legislation in Qld rental properties.  You must be able to identify whether you are safely covered in your rental property.

Why the change?

Ever since Australia’s worst ever house fire, back in 2011, it was identified that better legislation was needed to speed up the change to the latest technology smoke alarms in all Queensland properties.  It was determined that, in particular, the rental sector of the property market needed to be regulated.

What is the latest technology in smoke alarms?

The change in legislation calls for the introduction and installation of Photo-electric smoke alarms in all domestic properties.  It also specifies where to place the alarms in buildings.  In addition, the legislation requires all of the smoke alarms be hard wired and interconnected with one another.  This ensures that if one alarm triggers, then all alarms will go off so that the household is fully alerted.

General Information about photoelectric smoke alarms in rental properties

Photoelectric smoke alarms, also known as optical or photo-optical, and are different from the old fashioned ionisation smoke alarms.  This is because the new technology can actually detect visible particles of smoke.

The benefit?  The photo electric smoke alarms are better at detecting real smoke and fires.  Photoelectric smoke alarm design means they respond to smouldering fires.  and the type of smoke from household furnishings and particularly from electrical wiring that may have ignited.

The best advantages of photo electric smoke alarms is that they can detect smoke from smouldering fires, before they necessarily become a raging inferno.  This is important for generating the earliest alarm, which allows for an early escape and evacuation.

Photoelectric is the way to go for smoke alarms in rental properties

Photo electric smoke alarms are better for avoiding false alarms from kitchen smoke and bathroom steam.  That makes them more suitable for domestic applications.  A plus is they do not contain any radioactive materials like the old fashioned smoke alarms do.  You’ll agree that is better for the environment.

It has been proven that people are generally better protected from fire when better quality smoke alarms are fitted.  This is why photoelectric is the way to go for smoke alarms in rental properties.

Where should photo electric smoke alarms in rental properties be located?

If you are a landlord concerned about the landlord responsibility for smoke alarms, then the following is a guide to the safest and most practical positioning for smoke alarms in a property.

If you are a tenant, then the following information may be useful in making sure that the smoke alarms in your rental property comply with the smoke alarm legislation qld rental properties.

First and foremost, place smoke alarms on the ceiling wherever practical.

This can become complicated when there are sloping ceilings, ceilings with exposed beams, or narrow stairways, etc.  Every house is different, so try not to jump to conclusion with regard to layouts and location of smoke alarms.

As a general rule, place smoke alarms away from sheltered corners, away from between ceiling beams, and away from dead spaces.  These dead spaces may trap air and stop smoke from being detected.

Conversely, smoke alarms should not be placed too close to windows, doors, fans or air conditioners that may remove the smoke, which avoids detection.  This generally means keeping smoke alarms approximately 400 mm from fans, vents, openings, lights, and corners.

The biggest hint is to avoid kitchen and bathroom locations where accidental alarms can be annoying and cause people to ignore a smoke alarm.

When do you have to change?

There are several triggers for changing over to the latest technology photo-electric smoke alarms, but they are required to be installed over a 10-year period.

  • New buildings or substantial renovations will need to comply with the new smoke alarm legislation as of the 1st of January 2017.
  • Properties that are leased or sold after the 1st of January 2022 will need to meet the legislation whenever a new rental agreement is entered or when the property is sold.
  • Private properties will need to comply with the new smoke alarm legislation by the 1st of January 2027.
  • Any smoke alarms that are no longer working or have to be replaced at any stage will need to be replaced with a new photoelectric smoke alarm.

Landlord Responsibility for Amoke Alarms in 2017

PLEASE NOTE : This list is a guide only.  Please refer to the legislation for full details.

If you are a landlord in any doubt whatsoever about landlord responsibility for smoke alarms under the new smoke alarm legislation in Queensland, then it is vital that you consult with the information provided by QFES at the following location:

https://www.qfes.qld.gov.au/community-safety/smokealarms/Pages/sold-leased-properties.aspx

Here is a brief description of the changes as they apply to properties that are sold, or newly leased or have an existing lease renewed from 1st Jan 2017

  • Smoke alarms that are more than 10 years old must be replaced with photo electric smoke alarms in accordance with the Australian Standards
  • Smoke alarms that do not work must be replaced with photo electric smoke alarms in accordance with the Australian Standards
  • Hardwired Smoke alarms that need to be replaced, must be replaced with hardwired photo electric smoke alarms in accordance with the Australian Standards
  • It is highly recommended that all ionisation smoke alarms be replaced as soon as possible, should be hardwired, and / or powered by a 10 year battery which cannot be removed from the smoke alarm
  • All smoke alarms should be interconnected, to ensure that all occupants of a property are alerted to smoke and fire
  • For the best protection, smoke alarms are required to be located in every bedroom, in hallways or other connecting room between bedrooms and escape route, on at least every level or storey of the property.

Note the following changes as required under the legislation as of 1st Jan 2022 (in five years time from now)

  • All properties being sold or leased require to have hard wired, interconnected photo-electric smoke alarms installed in Queensland
  • The new legislation will require the a new photo electric smoke alarm be located in each and every bedroom
  • In addition, the new legislation will require the a new photo electric smoke alarm be located on each level or storey in the property
  • Furthermore, the new legislation will require the a new photo electric smoke alarm be located in each and every connecting hallway, room and direct path to an exit

Don’t feel as though it is only landlords and tenants being affected by the new legislation.  New properties, and those undergoing renovation, must also comply as of the date of construction.  By st Jan 2027, all properties in Queensland will be required to be fitted with photo electric, interconnected smoke alarms.

Landlord responsibility for smoke alarms – Final Tips

It is important to know that smoke alarms must comply with the Standard AS 3786-2014.

Never paint over Smoke alarms, as this compromises the workings of the device.

Choose Hardwired 240v photo electric smoke alarms.

A hardwired smoke alarm connects to the household 240v power supply.  In addition, ensure that it has a 10 year battery installed.  This has to be a battery which cannot simply be removed to stop nuisance beeping when the battery runs out.

As described above, take the following action at the commencement of all new leases.  Install the the latest technology photo electric smoke alarms in all Queensland rental properties.

Take the time to carefully read the manufacturer instructions.  If in any doubt, engage a qualified electrician to install the devices for you.

 

Information For Tenants

Smoke alarms in rental properties – what you need to know

Do you understand the latest technology smoke alarm systems?  When you go to sleep, you depend on the smoke alarms in the building to detect smoke.  You need them to quickly sound and to wake you up in time to safely evacuate.

Photoelectric smoke alarms are designed to see even the slightest amount of smoke and are required to be interconnected to one another, so that if one smoke alarm senses smoke in one room, all of the smoke alarms will trigger, so that all residents will be alerted to the problem.

The new Queensland legislation for smoke alarms in rental properties is not only important for landlords, but for tenants also.  It is important to understand that it is not only the type of smoke alarm, but also the locations that these are required to be in, the type of battery that you should have installed, (or hardwired to the household electricity supply) and that the smoke alarms are all interconnected.

This information is nice to know.  It also pays to be informed about the latest technology in fire protection and what to look out for when you inspect or sign up a new lease for a rental property in Queensland.

If you require any further information about smoke alarms in rental properties, please contact QFES directly at SmokeAlarms@qfes.qld.gov.au

Tenant responsibility for smoke alarms testing

The recommendation is to perform a smoke alarm check once a month.  This is simply done by pressing the test button. You can use a long handled implement to reach up and press the test button.

Take the time to carefully read the manufacturer instructions.  Your life and the lives of your fellow household members are at stake.

If the smoke alarms are not operating properly, contact your Property Manager immediately.

Take home points for all:

  1. Australian Standard 1670.6

Install all new and upgraded photoelectric smoke alarms in Queensland properties. Locate new photoelectric smoke alarms in accordance with Australian Standard (AS) 1670.6 – 1997: Fire detection, warning, control and intercom systems – System design, installation and commissioning – smoke alarms.

  1. Building Safety Regulations:

You can find further information for existing buildings within the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008 and for new building work within the Building Regulation 2006 (BR).

  1. For further information, please see:

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES)
For further information on the legislation:

https://www.qfes.qld.gov.au/community-safety/smokealarms/Pages/default.aspx

Email: SmokeAlarms@qfes.qld.gov.au

 

In Summary

You’re sure to agree with us that smoke alarms are crucially important for our safety and peace of mind.  Whilst we recommend you be familiar with the legislation, rest assured that we take these regulations very seriously indeed.  We take it upon ourselves to look out for the wellbeing of our owner and resident clients.  As part of our everyday routine, the Team at Position One Property keep abreast of legislation and regulations and can assist you with your enquiry should you need clarification. If you require assistance with smoke alarms in rental properties, please Contact Us on 07 3843 4511.