How are property managers handling smoke alarm changes?

Where do smoke alarms need to be placed under new legislation?
Where do smoke alarms need to be placed under new legislation?
Peter Blackshaw Woden, Weston Creek & South Molongo's Senior Property Manager, Lisa Guthrie lays out what the new smoke alarm changes mean for rentals. 

Tenants' safety is changing. Later this year, the ACT Government's new legislation on smoke alarms for rental properties will come into effect. This means:

  • Lessors cannot enter into tenancy agreements unless smoke alarms are installed within the property.
  • Smoke alarms must comply with the Building Code of Australia.
  • If homes are built after 1994, they must have at least 240v hard-wired alarms.
  • Homes built prior to 1994 can have 9v battery-operated alarms.
  • As per the Building Code of Australia, homes must have at least one smoke alarm per floor, and one in each space between bedrooms.

While this is essentially a legislative recognition of basic safety requirements, it's going to mean higher vigilance on fire safety for landlords and property managers in Canberra. We chatted with Peter Blackshaw Woden, Weston Creek and South Molonglo (PBWWC) Senior Property Manager, Lisa Guthrie , about these changes.

How does this legislation impact property managers?

"This legislation is going to affect every residential tenancy in the ACT," Lisa says, "because every lease agreement entered into after the legislation comes into effect must be compliant. We then have 12 months to ensure compliance to all existing tenancy agreements"

"For PBWWC, it's a matter of going through all of the properties we manage and making sure smoke alarms are up to code. We commenced this process as soon as the information was released by the ACT Government to ensure that our clients had the opportunity to be aware and have a full understanding of what these changes meant for them; and to ensure we were taking proactive approach and our properties were up to code before the legislation changes".

Where there's smoke, there needs to be a smoke alarm.Where there's smoke, there needs to be a smoke alarm.

"This has also meant speaking to a number of third party compliance groups for information to ensure when we do update smoke alarms, our clients are provided with the ideal combination of safety and value."

"Smoke alarm compliance is an excellent addition to the legislation, and is not hard to implement."

Whose responsibility is installing and maintaining smoke alarms?

"Everyone has their part to play in residential fire safety. The lessor assumes responsibility for entering into agreements, therefore, must ensure the right smoke alarms are installed and are compliant. All smoke alarms have a 10 year lifespan and need to be serviced. However, property managers can assist their clients in this process."

"Everyone has their part to play in residential fire safety."

"Tenants also have a duty of care around battery replacement, all smoke alarms including hard-wired alarms have a backup battery installed. Tenants are required to replace batteries when necessary, or contact their property manager / landlord."

"While failing to keep up to date is a breach of the Residential Tenancies Act, we're confident that everyone in Canberra is coming on board. As I said before, it's an excellent change, and one that is fairly straightforward."

Want to find out more about smoke alarm compliance, getting a rental appraisal or Canberra property in general? Get in touch with your nearest Peter Blackshaw team.