The importance of maintaining smoke alarms
Smoke alarms save lives. According to the RTA, reports have found that the risk of death in a house fire is reduced by more than half if properly maintained smoke alarms are installed. As a landlord, your property is one of your greatest assets, and the fire-safety of your tenants is your responsibility. The risks in both respects are far too great to leave to chance, which is why it is so important to maintain your smoke alarms and ensure they are compliant with the latest legislation changes, or if you are unsure, seek the support of an expert-led service provider.
Review any changes to smoke alarm legislation. Earlier this year, compliance requirements for landlords were updated to ensure the highest level of safety for assets and tenants. Now, smoke alarms must:
- Be photoelectric and less than 10 years old.
- Meet the new Australian Standard 3786:2014.
- Be interconnected with every other smoke alarm in the property so all activate at the same time.
- Be hard-wired or wireless alarms powered by a non-removable 10 year lithium battery or a combination of both.
- Be installed on each storey.
- Be installed in each bedroom.
- In hallways which connect bedrooms and the rest of the property.
- If there is no hallway, between the bedrooms and other parts of the storey.
For any questions or further information about these requirements, more information can be found here.
Ensure your tenants understand their responsibilities
While it would be nice to have low maintenance smoke alarms, ensuring either you or your property manager communicates the everyday responsibilities to tenants will help to keep smoke alarms in safe, working and compliant order.
According to the RTA, Tenants must:
- Test and clean (by vacuuming or dusting) smoke alarms at least once every 12 months.
- Replace any flat or nearly flat batteries.
- Advise the property owner/manager if there is any issue with the alarm (apart from batteries).
- Allow the property owner/manager right of entry to install smoke alarms.
- Not remove a smoke alarm or the battery (other than to replace it), or do anything to reduce the effectiveness of the alarm, e.g. paint or cover it.
Check legal testing requirements
Smoke alarm compliance for landlords includes a legal requirement for smoke alarms to be tested 30 days prior to new lease or renewal of the lease, or at least once a year to ensure the systems remain functioning and compliant. Working alongside a reputable smoke alarm service provider will ensure that any ongoing monitoring and maintenance needs are met.
Not all smoke alarms are equal
While the cheapest model on offer may be tempting, it is not always the best value. Some alarm systems may require more of an initial investment, but inclusions like extended warranties and expert servicing ensure longevity of the product, and the safety of your property and your tenants should an emergency arise.