Smoke detectors are something most of us take for granted and it is easy to forget how important they are. As a landlord, it is more than potential damage or destruction of property you need to think about. Put simply, smoke detectors save lives.
Depending on where your rental properties are located, your decisions will be governed by the relevant state legislation. It is universal that landlords should have smoke detectors installed in all rental properties and be responsible for their maintenance. There are penalties for failure to comply with relevant legislation.
In NSW legislation relating to smoke alarms was passed on 1 May 2006 requiring,
“All NSW residents to have at least one working smoke alarm installed on each level of their home. This includes owner occupied, rental properties, relocatable homes and any other residential building where people sleep.”
NSW PENALTIES FOR NON COMPLIANCE
In NSW a person who does not comply with the legislation is guilty of an offence, and which carries the maximum penalty of $550.
WHAT KIND OF SMOKE ALARM?
Smoke alarm technology is constantly evolving, newer photoelectric detectors are preferable to the old type of ionisation smoke alarms. The new technology means the detectors respond better and morequickly to various types of fires and smoke.
Basically, the photoelectric detectors will detect fires sooner and give the earliest possible alarm, allowing a quick escape.
Where burnt toast may once have set off a smoke detector, the problem is less likely to occur with the photoelectric variety. Thus making it less likely tenants will disconnect smoke alarms after being annoyed one too many times.
WHERE TO PUT THEM
Smoke detectors should be located in every bedroom, in hallways or other connecting areas that are escape routes from bedrooms. Remember every level or storey.
It is also important to ensure they are not installed too close to windows, doors, fans or air conditioners. Proper installationis important so use a qualified electricianif you are at all unsure.
GET THEM PROFESSIONALLY CHECKED
Professional inspectors will test to ensure smoke detectors are fully operational. They will conduct tests and replace batteries and any faulty parts. Engaging a professional Isn’t terribly expensive, is tax deductible and will ensure peace of mind.
MAKE SURE TENANTS KNOW THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES
Tenants have some responsibilities as well and it is important they understand what they are. Tenants are usually required to test smoke detectors monthly and immediately report any faults or problems. A good property manager will ensure tenants comply and stay safe.
As a landlord you are responsible not just for your property but also for human life. This is the most important responsibility you could have, so it makes sense you do everything you can to give your properties the best possible protection.