As the changes to the Residential Tenancies Regulations are now in effect, it is important that landlords act now to ensure they are compliant with the new smoke alarm laws. Here are the top tips for landlords and agents to make sure they don’t run the risk of putting tenants lives in danger, as well as being faced with financial or legal penalties.
In Victoria, smoke alarms are compulsory in every home, and rental properties are no exception. All Victorian homes should have at least one working smoke alarm on each level of the property and landlords are responsible for ensuring a suitably qualified person installs them. The legislation states that these alarms must be serviced annually and if not working, treated as an urgent repair. Tenants must have written instructions on how to maintain the alarms and must inform the landlord in writing as soon as possible if their alarm is not working.
Check your current set-up
If you have taken over a property to rent out, you must understand what current alarms are in place along with any installation history and ensure they have been correctly placed. Any smoke alarm needs to be replaced before it reaches the end of its 10-year service life, and this date is normally indicated by the warranty.
The alarms need to be installed in a suitable position to wake up sleeping occupants, so between each bedroom area and the rest of the house. In order to avoid dead air space, When mounting smoke alarms on the ceiling, locate it at least 300mm away from the side wall and 300mm away from any corner. If ceiling mounting is not possible, the recommended position for wall mounting is between 300mm and 500mm off the ceiling.
Replace non-compliant or broken alarms
Hard-wired systems must be installed by a suitably qualified person, and the new legislation makes it very clear that repairs and servicing should also fall under this category. Ensure that all the smoke alarms are in good condition and in safe working order, any faulty appliances must be replaced, and it is a good time to update your smoke alarm system as tenants need to be provided with written instructions on their use and maintenance.
As a reputable smoke alarm supplier, PSA’s alarms are compliant with both the current and draft legislation and there are several options available from hard-wired systems to wireless or battery alarms. If unsure of the installation history and condition of the current system, then ensure you replace these with up-to-date and compliant units, such as our HomeGuard Smoke Alarm or Lifesaver Smoke Alarm. You will then be able to use information from the manufacturer’s instructions to provide correct written guidance for tenants, as well as ensure that you have a proper scheduled and accurate annual service plan in place.
Keep accurate records of purchase, installation and service
If renting to new tenants, you will need to have written information ready to give to the tenant on the day they move in if not before. Clear information about how to test the smoke alarms as well as how each one works must be included in this documentation. Clear instructions should also be provided to the tenant about their obligations to immediately report any faults to the alarms in writing and not to tamper with the smoke alarm system. If not already in the tenancy agreement, you need to speak to your legal advisers and update current tenancy documentation. Records of who installed the units and servicing should also be collated ready for the start of the new laws. It is the landlord’s responsibility to report their compliance with the legislation so the sooner you begin the better.
Follow these key tips today and make sure you are ahead of the game. If you have any questions or would like to find out more about our smoke alarms that are compliant with the new legislation in Victoria, contact the friendly team at PSA Products today. For general information about the new smoke alarm laws, read this article. For more information about important smoke alarm checks for landlords, click here.