Smoke alarms - What are your obligations?
While most of us enjoy the festive spirit that Christmas lights bring during the holiday season, they unfortunately do lead to a higher incidence of house fires.
In an effort to continue to reduce the frequency of property damage and loss of life, the law was amended at the beginning of 2017 to impose significant new smoke alarm obligations on the owners of all residential dwellings in Queensland. Unfortunately, given the lengthy ‘phase in period’ for the laws, many homeowners are unaware that their obligations have changed. This is particularly concerning from an insurance perspective, as there is a risk that failure to comply with these requirements could void your insurance, resulting in no payout in the unfortunate event of a fire. Even worse, the improvements required by the laws are considered necessary to better protect human life and a failure to comply could have devastating results. So, what do you need to know?
I’m an owner-occupier
Any existing smoke alarms manufactured more than 10 years ago must be replaced with ‘photoelectric alarms’ (which operate by ‘seeing’ the smoke, rather than ‘smelling’ it) that comply with the Australian Standard. All alarms must be interconnected with every other smoke alarm in the dwelling, so that all alarms activate together. They cannot contain an ionisation sensor. The alarms must be hardwired or powered by a non-removable 10-year battery.
There are also new requirements for the placement of smoke alarms throughout the dwelling.
All smoke alarms in your home must be upgraded to meet the requirements by 1 January 2027.
I’m looking to renovate
If your project requires a development approval, you will need to comply with the new smoke alarm requirements as part of the approval process. Keep this in mind when determining your project budget.
I’m looking to sell
From 1 January 2022, a home will need to have smoke alarms which satisfy the new requirements prior to the property being able to be sold. Obviously if you are planning on selling in the next few years, you should budget (both from a financial and a time perspective) for the installation of new alarms, to ensure it does not prevent your potential sale.
I’m a landlord
Smoke alarms manufactured more than 10 years ago must be replaced and all alarms must be upgraded by 1 January 2022. However, we recommend that landlords make it a priority to upgrade existing smoke alarms as soon as possible, to minimise any risk of liability to your tenants for property damage or even worse, injury or death.
For more information, check out the Information Sheet published by the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services or contact the Enterprise Legal Property and Construction Law experts today.