Safety first is at the forefront of everyone’s mind when it comes to protecting people and the property they live in. It is also a legal responsibility for those who rent out homes and offices to ensure that the buildings they lease out are a safe place to live and work. Damage is not just restricted to the fabric of the build but will impact on the reputation of the landlord and can destroy businesses in more ways than one. The fallout from fires is far reaching. For example, insurance premiums for properties can increase following a fire, especially if the landlord has not undertaken the proper safety precautions. This puts more pressure on the outgoing costs to their business.
Insurance pay outs can also be affected, and the individual could be prosecuted because they fail to follow the correct safety measures. Reputational damage can also be a result of that, impacting business drastically as those wanting to rent properties may turn to other landlords with a good safety record.
There are hundreds of rental properties out there on the market today, with landlords undertaking renovation projects, to add properties to their portfolio. All this adds up to an overhaul of safety measures in the rental market. Pleading ignorance of any changes to legislation is no excuse and so, with the smoke alarm legislation changes in Queensland, this is one article that landlords cannot afford to ignore.
What are the changes?
All dwellings in Queensland are required to have interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms fitted in all bedrooms, on every level and in the hallways, that connect the bedrooms and sleeping areas with the rest of the property. This is part of a ten-year roll out programme across the state, to have interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms fitted and it has been planned to happen over 3 time periods starting from 1 January 2017. The first phase requires all new builds and renovations to have these type of smoke alarms fitted. By 1 January 2022, they must be fitted in all domestic properties that are sold or leased and by 1 January 2027, fitted in all other domestic dwellings.
What does this mean for landlords?
Houses and rented properties in Queensland are required to have smoke alarms that confirm to the latest standard. For landlords who are in the middle of renewing any tenancies at the moment, properties must comply with this legislation now. Even for selling homes, these new laws apply, so don’t get complacent and think that this does not apply to your rental business.
In order to comply with this legislation, it is important that landlords check what type of smoke alarms are currently fitted in the property. If these are existing hardwired 240volt smoke alarms, then they have to be replaced by a hardwired 240v photoelectric smoke alarm and fitted by a licensed electrician. For existing homes owned by landlords, there can be a combination of smoke alarms, either 240v or battery operated, and the connectivity can be hard wired and wireless. The most important thing is to ensure that approved smoke alarms are fitted and to discuss the individual requirements with a professional smoke alarm company.
What are photoelectric smoke alarms?
Photoelectric smoke alarms are the best system of detection when it comes to slower smouldering fires. Inside this type of alarm is a light sensing chamber. A beam of LED light is shone across the chamber in a straight line. What happens when smoke enters this chamber, is that it interrupts the beam of light and deflects it from its straight path onto a photosensor in a different part of the same chamber. Once this occurs, an alarm sounds and allows the tenants time to evacuate the dwelling.
What choice of approved photoelectric smoke alarm is available?
Fortunately, there are a number of smoke alarms available that will ensure landlords conform with the change in legislation. It makes sense because a landlord may have a number of properties to manage, to fit alarms with battery backup. Fitting a smoke alarm with battery backup will not only give peace of mind but reduce the time spent changing batteries. The LIF5800RL/2 smoke alarm features the required photoelectric sensing technology but never needs to have the battery changed during the lifespan of the alarm. If there is an interruption to the power supply then again, these alarms will continue to function and also alert the occupier if a battery is running low, by emitting a consistent beep.
Other types of system harness the power of technology and use wireless to link each unit. Products such as the LIF10YPEW, which have a built in RF radio frequency wireless interlink control and the ability to interconnect up to 24 units, is a good system to have, especially where there are a number of sleeping areas and hard-wiring interlink is difficult or not possible. If one of the RF units that are interlinked is triggered, then all the other alarms in the same RF interlink system will also sound. This is a good system for rental properties of multiple occupancy and compliant with legislation.
Top of the priority list for portfolio management for landlords has to be to review all existing rentals and the requirements against the new legislation. Then start to ensure the compliant and required number of units are fitted to existing properties. Make sure this is made clear in any information given to current and prospective tenants and don’t get caught out by the new requirements.
To view our smoke alarms that are compliant with the new Queensland legislation, click here. For general information about the new legislation and how it can affect you, read our article here. For more information about work safety and the smoke alarm installations, click here.