Despite the regular and devastating deaths across Australia due to house fires, the message of smoke alarms still appears to not be getting through.

Smoke Alarm Statistics

Victoria University conducted a survey in Victoria amongst 500 Melbournians that resulted in a frightening statistics. Less than one-twenty properly maintain their smoke alarms. They found that less than 5% of people vacuumed their smoke alarm monthly, as recommended by Australian safety guidelines. 60% of people never cleaned the inside of their smoke alarms.

For such a simple process that can make the difference between saving your life, it is a strange phenomenon as to why we as a nation are still so ambivalent when it comes to smoke alarm safety.

The NSW Department of Fair Trading clearly outlines the laws applicable to the implementation and maintenance of smoke alarms in rental properties. The below guidelines outline the responsibilities of landlords and tenants when it come to smoke alarms:

NSW Residential Tenancies Act Guidelines

  • Landlords are responsible for installing smoke alarms in rented premises.
  • Landlords have the right of access to rented premises to fit or maintain smoke alarms. They must give tenants at least 2 days notice.
  • Neither the landlord nor the tenant is permitted to remove or interfere with the operation of a smoke alarm fitted in the rented premises.
  • Where a smoke alarm is of the type that has a replaceable battery, it is recommended that the landlord put a new battery in at the commencement of a tenancy.
  • After the tenancy begins, the tenant is responsible for replacing the battery if needed. Fire and Rescue NSW can assist elderly tenants or those physically unable to change a smoke detector battery.
  • The condition report includes a specific reference to smoke alarms. It specifies that tenants and landlords are able to note and comment on the presence of smoke alarms at the beginning and end of the tenancy.
  • Residential owners who rent out their premises as holiday accommodation are responsible for installing smoke alarms and replacing batteries.

(NSW Department of Fair Trading)

As a landlord, take the time to carry out this part of your tenancy protocol correctly and diligently. As a tenant, know what your landlord’s responsibilities are, as well as your own.

It could save a life.