Smoke alarm rules vary across Australia, but generally they must meet Australian Standards.
Below is a summary of the regulations in your state. It’s recommended to refer to your relevant state authority for specific legislative requirements.
New smoke alarm legislation states all Queensland residences must be fitted with interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms. They must comply with Australian Standard (AS) 3786-2014 and are required in all new dwellings and substantially renovated dwellings (this applies to building applications submitted from 1 January 2017).
To ensure you remain compliant, and for more information visit New Queensland smoke alarm legislation.
New South Wales
In New South Wales, smoke alarm compliance is regulated by the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Regulation 2006 and the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.
Smoke alarms installed after 1st May 2006 must comply with Australian Standards AS3786. There must be at least one working smoke alarm installed on every level of a home or residential building where people sleep. This includes rental properties, relocatable homes, caravans and campervans.
Fire and Rescue New South Wales recommends additional precautions be undertaken, including placing interconnected smoke alarms in all bedrooms, living areas, hallways, stairways and also within the garages of homes.
Landlords are responsible for replacing wireless smoke alarms with new batteries at the start of a tenancy. Once the tenancy has begun, the tenant then becomes responsible for replacing the battery, as required.
In addition, landlords are also responsible for replacing hard-wired smoke alarm back-up batteries.
All homes, units, flats and townhouses constructed after 1st August 1997 require smoke alarms that must comply with Australian standards AS3786 and are interconnected to 240-volt mains power. Additionally, a backup battery must also be installed within the smoke alarm itself.
Homes constructed after 1 May 2014, which have undergone any major renovations require more than one interconnected smoke alarm installed.
From 1st May 2016, all rental property smoke alarms must be mains powered or have a ten year
non-removable lithium battery. The device must meet the Australian Standard AS 3786 – 2014 or AS 1670.1 – 2015.
Tenants must test each smoke alarm and notify the owner or property agent if it’s not working.
Landlords must ensure smoke alarms are compliant with regulations and repair or replace the smoke alarm or battery as soon as possible, if notified by tenants of any issues. They must clean, test and ensure all alarms are working correctly prior to leasing a property. Alarms should also be replaced every ten years.
Homes or residential rental properties purchased prior to 1st February 1998, must have a replaceable battery powered smoke alarm installed to comply with legislation.
Homes or residential rental properties purchased on or after to 1st February 1998 must comply with Regulation 76B of the Development Regulations 2008 and smoke alarm(s) must be installed within six months from the day of title transfer. They must be a 240 volt, mains-powered smoke alarm or contain a 10-year life tamper proof battery, permanently connected.
Homes or residential rental properties built on or after 1 January 1995 must comply with The Building Code of Australia, requiring a 240 volt, mains powered smoke alarm be installed.
For any new residences, additions or extensions to existing properties require interconnected smoke alarms be installed and both homeowners and residential landlords are responsible for ensuring compliant working smoke alarms are installed.
Western Australia’s Building Regulations 2012 requires homeowners to comply with Building Code of Australia (BCA) guidelines on the placement and installation of smoke alarms.
From 1st May 2017 all newly installed smoke alarms must now comply with AS3786:2014. Regulations require that smoke alarms for homes newly built after 1st May 2015, must be interconnected to power mains.
For those intending to sell or lease their property, smoke alarms should also have been installed less than ten years prior and must be in good working order.
Legislation requires hard-wired photoelectric smoke alarms or those with sealed battery units containing a ten year life lithium battery be installed in all residential properties and movable dwellings, including caravans. Any hardwired smoke alarms must be installed by licensed electricians, but battery-powered smoke alarms can be installed by anyone following manufacturer instructions.
Property owners are required to test each smoke alarm at least once per year. Where impractical for an owner or investor to personally maintain, test or replace alarms, they can nominate a proxy, such as a property manager to act on their behalf.
Tenants are obligated to test each smoke alarm at least once per year and notify the owner or property agent of any smoke alarm issues.
Australian Capital Territory
The ACT residential Tenancies Act was amended on 24th August 2017. Existing rental property owners have until 24th August 2018 to ensure their smoke alarms comply with the legislation.
Property owners must install working smoke alarms that comply with Australian Standard AS3786(1) and with the Building Code of Australia.
Working smoke alarms must be installed on each level of the property and with one located in each space between bedrooms.
Homes constructed after 1994 must have at least 240 Volt hard-wired smoke alarms.
Homes constructed prior to 1994 can have 9 Volt battery-operated smoke alarms.
Tenants are required to test and replace smoke alarm batteries as required.
Ensuring your property and the tenants are protected is paramount. Complying with the rules and regulations surrounding the type and installation of smoke alarms will also ensure you can continue to lease and/or sell your investment property and avoid non-compliance penalties.
Depreciation deductions for smoke alarms
You can benefit financially from the legislative changes for smoke alarms.
Residential property smoke detectors are considered a plant and equipment asset and can be depreciated at a rate of 10 per cent per year over a maximum twenty year effective life. If the smoke alarm costs less than $300, these items can be written off immediately. If the smoke alarm cost is greater than $300 but less than $1,000 the item will fall into the a low-value pool and can be depreciated at a higher rate of 18.75 per cent in the first financial year and 37.5 per cent for each year after.
BMT Tax Depreciation staff can assist you in reviewing your current circumstances and provide a tax depreciation schedule that includes forecast of eligible claims for depreciable assets and structures.
To learn more speak with one of our expert team on 1300 728 726 or Request a Quote online.