Smoke alarm legislation is complex and varies by state. It’s our job to get it right so that people can sleep at night.
When it comes to smoke alarm maintenance, property owners need to adhere to two types of regulations: Federal requirements which apply Australia-wide, and individual requirements for their state.
Landlords are generally responsible for installing smoke alarms, and for ensuring that they are regularly maintained and replaced when faulty or expired.
Agents may be contractually responsible for informing landlords of their responsibilities and ensuring that the smoke alarms in their managed properties are compliant.
Detector Inspector provides an expert service to ensure that all federal and state-based requirements are met. Our system keeps a digital audit trail of every communication and service, to show that you’ve made every effort to keep properties compliant and occupants safe.
Smoke alarms must be installed properly in required positions according to the Building Code, and
Smoke alarms must comply in design and performance standards according to the Australian Standards.
Each state individually adopts parts of the Building Code and Australian Standards. So, while the Building Code and Australian Standards set out a uniform standard, it is important to understand the different legislative requirements for smoke alarms in each state.
Read below to learn more about the requirements in your state.
- The Victorian Building Regulations 2018 requires smoke alarms to be installed in accordance with the Building Code of Australia (BCA). Importantly:
- Residential homes constructed after 1 August 1997 require 240-volt hard-wired smoke alarms with a backup battery.
- Landlords are responsible for the installation of smoke alarms, and are also required to maintain the rented premises in good repair under the Residential Tenancies Act. To work out what “good repair” means for a smoke alarm, we look to authorities such as the Metropolitan Fire Brigade.
- According to the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Website:
New South Wales
- Similar to other states, a Landlord is required to maintain the residential premises in a reasonable state of repair, having regard to the age of, rent payable for and prospective life of the premises.
- In NSW, smoke alarms in residential premises must be installed and maintained in accordance with the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (EPA) and Regulations.
- As per guidelines published by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, for any type of sleeping accommodation, landlords must:
- For battery smoke alarms, the landlord must replace the battery at the commencement of a tenancy. The tenant is responsible for replacing the battery during the tenancy.
- For hard-wired smoke alarms, the landlord is to replace the back-up batteries.
- As per the EPA and the New South Wales Fire Brigade guidelines, smoke alarms installed after 1 May 2006 must be functioning and comply with Australian Standards AS 3786 or be listed with the Scientific Services laboratory.
- The EPA Regulations provide that functioning smoke alarms installed in a class 1a or class 2 building, a relocatable home or a class 4 part of a building before 1 May 2006 are taken to comply until such time as the alarm is removed or ceases to function.
- More information can be found in the: Residential Tenancies (Residential Premises) Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Regulation 2006 and Residential Parks Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Regulation 2006.
Australian Capital Territory
- In ACT the relevant legislation and regulations include: Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (“the Act”), Residential Tenancies Regulation 1998, Australian Standard 3786-2014, Building Act 2004, and Building Regulation 2008
- The ACT Residential Tenancies Act was amended in August 2017 to require all leased properties in the ACT to be fitted with smoke alarms that comply with AS3786:2014. Existing rental property owners had until 24th August 2018 to comply.
- The Act also defines the responsibilities for a property owner and for a tenant.
- Property owners must ensure that:
- Property owners should also refer to the following recommendations made by ACT Fire & Rescue (ACTF &R):
- Queensland has some of the most stringent smoke alarm legislation and regulations. Relevant reference documents include:
- According to the Fire and Emergency Services Act, smoke alarms must comply with Australian Standards AS 3786.
- The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services factsheet sets out the following:
- According to the Queensland Residential Tenancies Authority website, each smoke alarm must be tested and cleaned within 30 days prior to each tenancy change or renewal.
- The Queensland Government website details guidelines as follows:
Design & installation. Smoke alarms must be:
Location. Smoke alarms must be:
Dates for compliance. Smoke alarms are to be compliant by different dates by for different dwelling types:
- Legislation in South Australia makes it compulsory to have smoke alarms in all residential properties.
- According to the Development Act 1993 and the South Australian Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure website:
- A landlord must ensure that the premises, and ancillary property, are in a reasonable state of repair at the beginning of the tenancy and must keep them in a reasonable state of repair having regard to their age, character and prospective life; and must comply with statutory requirements affecting the premises.
- According to the Development Regulations, smoke alarms must comply with Australian Standards AS 3786. Smoke alarms for all residential rental property (including detached houses, villas, guest houses, hostels etc) must be:
- According to the Tasmanian Government website and the Tasmanian Residential Tenancy (Smoke Alarms) Regulations, smoke alarms must be hard-wired or fitted with a 10-year, non-removable, lithium battery in accordance with the Australian Standards AS 3786.
- At a minimum, a smoke alarm must be installed in every hallway near a bedroom and on each level of a multi-storey home.
- According to the Tasmanian Regulations, before a new tenancy:
Important disclaimer: the advice provided in these guidelines is of a general nature only and is a summary of the main legislation and regulations affecting smoke alarm repair and maintenance in the relevant states described. It is not to be treated as a comprehensive appraisal of all smoke alarm legislation and regulations in force. This advice does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. The advice is a summary of guidelines published by state and territory government websites and websites of affiliated fire departments. Accordingly, we have relied on the accuracy of the content published by the relevant websites in compiling this advice. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content. Regulations with respect to Western Australia and the Northern Territory have not been included in this summary document.