Join Australia's most dynamic and respected property investment community

Smoke alarm inspection - what are the rules (QLD)?

Discussion in 'Property Management' started by jaybean, 13th Jul, 2015.

  1. jaybean

    jaybean Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    20th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    981
    Location:
    Melbourne
    So I got an inspection, and failed. I brought in my electrician to install all new detectors. Now the agent is saying I have to pay another service fee to have them checked again. Is this really needed? I'm not a cheapskate so if it means the difference between being legally exposed if there is a fire and being 100% risk free then sure I'll pay it. I'm not going to lose sleep over $100-200. But paying the cost of two inspections seems like overkill. If my electrician is certified, surely this isn't necessary? Or do I need to obtain some sort of special safety certificate that most regular electricians are unlikely to be able to provide?
     
    Last edited: 13th Jul, 2015
  2. SeafordSunshine

    SeafordSunshine Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    24th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    373
    Location:
    Sydney
    Dear Jaybean,
    you use a licensed sparky,
    in my world that is enough.

    Ask your building and Landlord insurance if you need to have it re inspected!
    ( bet they will say no!)
    What else is your agent ripping you off for?
    :mad:
    I hope this helps
     
  3. Perp

    Perp Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    18th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    455
    Location:
    Brisbane
    What was the time-frame between installation and the proposed inspection?
     
  4. jaybean

    jaybean Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    20th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    981
    Location:
    Melbourne
    He did it today, and presumably the agent would send the inspector in the next day or three.
     
  5. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    18th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    2,917
    Location:
    Brisbane
    We use Smoke Alarm Solutions. When we've needed to add an alarm they send their sparky and it is all done by the same company.
     
  6. Chilliblue

    Chilliblue Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    18th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    1,578
    Location:
    Australia
    From REIQ website:

    SMOKE ALARM LEGISLATION & RENTAL PROPERTIES
    As of July 1 2007, every domestic dwelling in Queensland was required to have smoke alarms. The laws, which fall under the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service Act 1990, apply to all residential dwellings in Queensland, not just the rental sector.

    INITIAL ONUS IS ON THE LESSOR
    The law placed minimum installation standards upon the lessor. The minimum requirement for the type of smoke alarm is a nine-volt battery operated alarm.

    However, the Real Estate Insistute of Queensland (REIQ) recommends that lessors consider higher standards of alarms such as a photoelectric 10-year tamper proof lithium battery alarm or a 240-volt hard wired alarm with battery back-up.

    WHERE DO THE ALARMS GO?
    The alarms are required to be installed:

    • On or near the ceiling on any storey
    • Between any areas containing bedrooms and the rest of the house or unit, e.g. hallways or
    • On a storey not containing bedrooms on the most likely evacuation route from the property
    The laws have imposed maintenance obligations on both the lessor and the tenant.

    LESSOR OBLIGATIONS
    The lessor must clean and test all smoke alarms at the property within 30 days of the start of a tenancy. Thisincludes renewal agreements.

    HERES AN EXAMPLE
    If a tenant enters into a six-month tenancy agreement and the lessor offers a renewal agreement at the end of the current agreement, the lessor obligation to clean and test all alarms within 30 days of the start of an agreement again applies.

    If it is found that the battery is flat or almost flat at the time of cleaning and testing the alarm, the lessor must replace the battery immediately. If the alarm fails, other than because the battery is flat during a tenancy, the lessor must replace or repair the alarm.

    The lessor must replace the alarm before it reaches the ends of its service life.

    TENANT OBLIGATIONS
    Tenants must replace the battery if the battery is flat or almost flat during a tenancy.

    The tenant must clean and test the alarms during a tenancy only if:

    • They have a 12 month agreement or longer; or

    • They are on a periodic tenancy that is 12 months or longer in duration.

    If a tenancy is less than 12 months in length, or a periodic tenancy that is less than 12 months in length, the obligations to clean and test an alarm cannot be passed onto the tenant.

    The tenant must notify the lessor/property manager immediately if the alarm has failed other than because the battery is flat or almost flat.

    WHAT IF A FIXED TERM ROLLS INTO A PERIODIC TERM?
    If a fixed term tenancy rolls over into a periodic without any action from either the tenant or the lessor/property manager, the lessor obligation to clean and test the alarm within 30 days will not apply. This is because a new agreement has not been entered into; the agreement has merely rolled over to a periodic tenancy under the same terms and conditions as the fixed term agreement. Test and clean the smoke alarm in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions within 30 days before the start or renewal of a tenancy.
     
    wylie likes this.
  7. jaybean

    jaybean Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    20th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    981
    Location:
    Melbourne
    Thanks for that. Nowhere in that says it has to be a special smoke alarm company. In fact it doesn't even say it needs to be a certified electrician. I think I've done enough, I trust my sparky. Thanks guys.
     
  8. Perp

    Perp Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    18th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    455
    Location:
    Brisbane
    There's no reason to test that they're still working or were installed correctly; the main risk in your situation is compliance with regard to number and positioning, because I'm not sure whether all sparkies are across smoke alarm regulations.

    If your sparky installed them in accordance with the regulations, then no need for another inspection.
     
    Marg4000 likes this.
  9. Lu Bracher

    Lu Bracher Active Member

    Joined:
    19th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    44
    Location:
    Brisbane
    Electrician invoice sufficient.
    Does not require smoke alarms company to go back.
    More info go to fire and rescue site.
    Owners can do it themselves just don't recommend it for insurance but not undo able - I'll post links when I get back to office.
     
  10. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    18th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    2,917
    Location:
    Brisbane
    Thanks for that info Chilliblue. I don't need to look it up now as I have two houses about to roll into a periodic tenancy situation.

    One thing is that the wording above doesn't make it clear, but from my understanding it is not "within 30 days of the start of the tenancy" but rather must be tested in the timeframe within 30 days PRIOR to the date of the tenancy.

    I'm fairly sure from previous calls to RTA and the smoke alarm company (maybe both?) that the check must be done prior to the date of the new tenancy agreement, within 30 days prior. I've held up the signing of leases due to this to ensure that they are checked before the start date, and not within 30 days after.
     
  11. Perp

    Perp Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    18th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    455
    Location:
    Brisbane
    You are correct, wylie, it must be before. From Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990 s 104RD:

    "Within 30 days before the start of a tenancy in a domestic dwelling, the lessor must test each smoke alarm in the dwelling in compliance with this section."
     
  12. Lambo

    Lambo Member

    Joined:
    15th Jul, 2015
    Posts:
    16
    Location:
    Brisbane
    I am currently going through the process of renting out my first IP. My PM told me that it is a requirement to have a smoke alarm inspection done by a smoke alarm company (smoke alarm solutions) at a one off cost of $39 or $99/year. I was very surprised as I am quite confident in my ability to install smoke alarms according to the requirements. I even mentioned I'd be happy to replace all the smoke alarms in the house with new ones.

    After reading above and doing a bit more research it is apparent that it is not a requirement after all so I'm not sure why he said it was?? Could it be company policy?
     
  13. Perp

    Perp Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    18th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    455
    Location:
    Brisbane
    If you are familiar with AS 3786, that's great, but I bet most landlords don't know the minimum distances smoke alarms must be from a corner, proper positioning if the smoke alarm has to be on a vertical wall, the effect of exposed beams on positioning, and positioning of smoke alarms on raked ceilings.

    It's not rocket science, but nor is it a matter of just "sticking a smoke alarm somewhere near the sleeping areas".
     
    wylie likes this.
  14. SeafordSunshine

    SeafordSunshine Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    24th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    373
    Location:
    Sydney
    All this is good information!
    Once we have the info should it all go into resources area? Sim?
    Cheers
     
  15. Lu Bracher

    Lu Bracher Active Member

    Joined:
    19th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    44
    Location:
    Brisbane
    https://www.qfes.qld.gov.au/communitysafety/smokealarms/pdf/QFRS_SmokeAlarmFACTSHEETS.pdf

    The only recommendation for owners to have a specific smoke alarm company do it - insurance.

    I don't know how you value your time, but unless you own half the block - it really isn't worth your while to go to one property and change it yourself for the sake of $55.00 per year. I have owners that can do it themselves, and I let them, but only if they can provide me with proof that the smoke alarm batteries and have tested - via email so we can protect them also as proof that it has been done. $55.00 pa is tax deductible, they go out multiple times, you as the landlord have something in writing to say that the property is COMPLIANT. Your insurers happy (in case of claim they can offload this to the P/Liability of the Smoke Alarms Company)

    Where I can, if a property is being prepared for tenanting and doesn't have a smoke alarms, I will put one in and then have the smoke alarms service do the rest and provide the compliance certificate.
     
    Perp likes this.
  16. VKeen2Learn

    VKeen2Learn Member

    Joined:
    14th Jul, 2015
    Posts:
    12
    Location:
    Brisbane
    Hi Lu, is this simply a personal recommendation or do you know of a situation where an owner has been dragged through the courts for doing his/her own smoke alarm tests?

    Smoke alarm testing seems to be a very grey area and to my mind at least a lot of recommendations to use a smoke alarm company arise from personal fear rather than legal precedence.

    Cheers
     
    Last edited: 16th Jul, 2015
  17. Perp

    Perp Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    18th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    455
    Location:
    Brisbane
    Doing it yourself isn't a problem if you get it right, but there's no doubt that if you bugger up - e.g. by placing the alarm too close to a corner, or in the wrong position with respect to an exposed beam - you will be liable and likely hung out to dry by your insurer.
     
  18. MyPropertyPro

    MyPropertyPro SE Qld Property Management & Investor Services Business Member

    Joined:
    1st Jul, 2015
    Posts:
    221
    Location:
    Australia
    The above posters are correct with respect to liability. Although the electrician may have installed them correctly and the property may be compliant, the onus is on the landlord to prove that the property is compliant should the worst happen.

    By paying a smoke alarm company to inspect and provide you with that certificate of compliance, you will potentially save yourself a lot more money than the cost of obtaining the second inspection from a company who can provide you with a compliancy document. For me, smoke alarm compliance is a non-negotiable expense and simply a cost of doing business. I'm always astounded when investors are reluctant to spend $100 on something that could potentially cost them their entire portfolio and more. In my opinion, it's not worth the risk!
     
    Michael Thomas, wylie and Perp like this.
  19. Michael Thomas

    Michael Thomas Member

    Joined:
    18th Jan, 2016
    Posts:
    10
    Location:
    Brisbane
    Two well versed members in Perp and mpp.
    There is absolutely nothing in the law that prevents or discourages the landlords from doing the compliance checks themselves .... in fact the law requires it.
    However as both Perp and mpp correctly pointed out, there is much much more to smoke alarm compliance than people realize, and landlords should always consider the benefits of an independent compliance business.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 4th May, 2016
  20. DiligentPM

    DiligentPM Well-Known Member Business Member

    Joined:
    18th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    443
    Location:
    Brisbane
    We decided to explore this issue to demystify the 'myths' and articulate the facts - this information (there is more detailed information however I decided to share the key points only) is presently being scrutinised by a legal firm to ensure it is correct ...

    upload_2016-2-14_19-51-57.png

    Queensland Fire and Rescue Service recommends Photoelectric Smoke Alarm Systems for all smoke alarms (battery operated and hard wired).

    Photoelectric smoke alarms respond to a wider range of fires and are more effective.

    upload_2016-2-14_19-52-57.png Queensland Fire and Emergency Services recommends individuals to supplement or replace existing smoke alarms with photoelectric types, especially in sleeping areas and exists from the home e.g. hallways.

    Newest Legal Obligations for owners
    Buildings submitted for approval as from 1st May 2014 onwards must have smoke alarms that are:
      • hard-wired and
      • inter-connected
    • Inter-connected smoke alarms (wireless or hard wired) are activated at the same time throughout the home offering the highest level of protection.
    Owners Responsibilities

    • Ensure smoke alarms comply with the Australian standard 3786-1993 outside sleeping areas and one on each level of a multi-level home (law)
    • Replace smoke alarms before the life of their service life (law)

    • Replace 9 Volt battery operated smoke alarms annually (pre 1997 homes) (law)

    • Test and clean smoke alarms and replace any spent or nearly spent batteries within 30 days before the tenancy commences or renewal of a tenancy (law)

      Good Practice – Where to place smoke alarms?
      • on each level of living areas in a multi-storey home (law)

      • hallway area outside bedrooms and living room with an additional alarm in homes with separate sleeping areas (law)

      • in every bedroom – as an additional safety precaution (not law, recommended by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services)

        Good Practice – Where to NOT place smoke alarms
        1. close proximity to kitchens and bathroom as steam and cooking can cause unwanted alarms – smoke alarms with hush buttons address this matter

        2. close to windows, doors, fans or air conditioners

        3. in dead air space – this is an area in which trapped hot air will prevent smoke from reaching the alarm (generally occurs at the apex of cathedral ceilings)

          Tenant Responsibilities
          • Tenant must report faulty smoke alarm system (law)

          • Tenants cannot tamper with the smoke alarm system or take out unspent batteries (law)

          • Tenants must replace the battery if the battery is spent or almost spent during a tenancy agreement period – the alarm will beep (law)

          • Tenants must clean and test smoke alarms during a tenancy period if:
            • They have a 12 month lease agreement or longer

            • They are on a periodic agreement that is 12 months or longer (law)
          • Tenants on a lease agreement less than 12 months in length or on a periodic agreement that is less than 12 months are not responsible for testing and cleaning smoke alarms (law)

          A couple of scenarios clarified by Real Estate Institute of Qld (REIQ)
          1. If a tenant enters into a 6 month tenancy agreement and the Lessor (owner) offers a renewal agreement at the end of the current agreement, the lessor’s obligation is to clean and test all alarms within 30 days of the start of the renewed tenancy


          2. If a fixed term tenancy rolls over into a periodic without any action from either the tenant or the lessor/property manager, the lessor obligation to clean and test all alarms within 30 days will not apply. This is because the new agreement has not been entered into, the agreement has merely rolled over to a periodic tenancy under the same terms and conditions as the fixed term agreement.
     
    Last edited: 14th Feb, 2016