Smoke alarms and RCDs

RCDs

Lessors must have two RCDs installed on the switchboard at their rental premises before it can be leased. Energy Safety has more detailed information about RCDs.

Smoke Alarms

In the case of a fire, toxic smoke, rather than heat and flames, is the most immediate threat to life.

As many fires occur at night, when people are asleep, the smoke can lull people into a deeper sleep from which they often don't wake.

From 1 July 1997, the installation of mains powered smoke alarms became mandatory for all new residential buildings (or residential building extensions) within Western Australia. Since 1 October 2009, mains powered smoke alarms are required to be fitted in all existing residential buildings prior to sale and before a new tenancy agreement is signed. These requirements are now prescribed in the Building Regulations 2012.

Local Government agencies are responsible for investigating and enforcing the mandatory requirement to fit and maintain smoke alarms under the Building Regulations 2012, so non-compliance can be directed to the local council. .

A $750 infringement notice could be issued for any premise without a smoke alarm, while the seller or landlord could face a fine of up to $5000.

Landlords

It is the responsibility of the owner to ensure the smoke alarms fitted are:

  • no more than 10 years old;
  • in working order; and
  • permanently connected to consumer mains power.

The Building Regulations permit installation of battery powered smoke alarms in limited circumstances. In those circumstances local government approval is required unless:

a. there is no hidden space in which to run the necessary electrical wiring and there are no appropriate alternative locations for the smoke alarm; or
b. the building is not connected to consumer mains power.

Battery operated smoke alarms must have a 10 year life, non-removable battery.

Tenants

For rental properties, tenants are likely to be responsible for keeping smoke alarms in working order to the extent practical eg changing the battery if reasonably accessible and testing the smoke alarm so they are aware of the alert. All smoke alarms have a test button that, when pressed, indicate whether the alarm is working or not.

The overall responsibility for ensuring these are working smoke alarms as required by the Building Regulations 2012 is the lessor’s.

Real estate agents

Real estate agents should check with the owner that the property is fitted with mains powered smoke alarms that are no more than 10 years old, in working order and permanently connected to mains power.

Where mains powered smoke alarms cannot be fitted, due to the construction of the dwelling not permitting space to conceal the wiring, or where no mains power is available, alarms with a 10 year battery life are permitted.

Mains powered smoke alarms must also be installed by an electrical contractor before a property is sold or tenanted.

Settlement agents

Settlement agents acting for a seller should advise their client to check the property is fitted with mains powered smoke alarms that are no more than 10 years old, in working order and permanently connected to mains power.

Where mains powered smoke alarms cannot be fitted, due to the construction of the dwelling not permitting space to conceal the wiring, or where no mains power is available, alarms with a 10 year battery life are permitted. An owner or settlement agent can check with the local council if permission has been granted to install a battery smoke alarm instead of a wired smoke alarm.

Mains powered smoke alarms must also be installed by an electrical contractor before a property is sold or tenanted.

If the seller wishes to proceed to settlement where the smoke alarms are not in place settlement agents should protect themselves by obtaining a written instruction and acknowledgment from their client stating that settlement is to proceed despite the smoke alarms not being installed at the premises.

More information

Smoke alarm laws fact sheet (Building Commission)

Renting, hiring or selling your property fact sheet (Department of Fire and Emergency Services)

More information on smoke alarms, including for the hearing impaired, is available on the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) website.

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