Queensland households are set to become the safest in Australia thanks to new fire safety regulations rolled out by the government.
Let’s take a look at what these changes mean for those with investment properties in this state and also for those considering buying a Queensland property.
- What are the changes?
- When do the rules take effect?
- What are my obligations as a landlord?
- What are the obligations of a tenant?
- Why comply?
- Smoke alarm rules vary across Australian states and territories
What are the changes?
New smoke alarm legislation requires all Queensland residences to be fitted with interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms in all bedrooms and hallways connecting bedrooms with the rest of the property and on every level of the dwelling.
The new regulations will affect over 450,000 rental properties throughout Queensland and may result in investors paying up to $2,000 for new smoke alarms.
The requirements may seem like a negative due to the financial outlay but understanding how you can make this work in your favour by claiming depreciation deductions to reduce your taxable income will help you to capitalise on your investment while also protecting the safety of your tenants.
A BMT Tax Depreciation Schedule outlines all the deductions you can claim for your property, including plant and equipment assets such as smoke alarms. The fee for a schedule is 100 per cent tax deductible and the schedule lasts for forty years.
Where landlords fail to comply with regulations, they will be unable to rent their property. Fines may apply as well as possible criminal charges. Tenants residing in a non-compliant property are also unable to renew their lease.
The Queensland Government Fire and Emergency Services website outlines the benefits of the new smoke alarms:
‘Photoelectric smoke alarms, also known as optical or photo-optical, detect visible particles of combustion. They respond to a wide range of fires but are particularly responsive to smouldering fires and the dense smoke given off by foam-filled furnishings or overheated PVC wiring.’
Interconnected smoke alarms connect to other smoke alarms in the property either through hard-wiring to a home’s mains power supply or wirelessly when battery operated. The result is if one smoke alarm detects smoke, they are all activated. Regulations require that wireless smoke alarms must be non-removable with batteries manufactured to operate the smoke alarm for ten years minimum without a need to recharge.
Research shows that photoelectric smoke alarms are superior in quality to standard smoke detectors and have an increased effectiveness across a wider range of home fires. This would lead to an expected increase in the safety of occupants as well as minimising property damage as a result of early detection.
When do the rules take effect?
In a ten year phased approach, commencing from 1st January 2017, the Queensland government is rolling out changes requiring the installation of interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms over three specific periods. All rental properties are required to meet these requirements by 31st December 2021.
Interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms must meet the Australian Standard AS3786–2014 and be installed according to the following dates:
What are my obligations as a landlord?
Landlords must ensure interconnected smoke alarms are installed and compliant with the new Queensland government requirements by 31st December 2021.
Smoke alarms should display the code ‘AS3786–2014’ on the body of the smoke alarm and they can be sourced from hardware stores, electrical retailers or obtained through qualified electricians.
Landlords must ensure smoke alarms are placed on the ceiling (where possible) and installed throughout the property as advised above. They must also ensure each smoke alarm has been tested and cleaned within thirty days prior to the commencement of any new lease. This includes renewal or existing tenancy agreement extensions.
What are the obligations of a tenant?
Tenants must test and clean each smoke alarm at least once a year. This may involve referring to smoke alarm manufacturer instructions where a ‘test’ button on the device may not be visible. Regarding the cleaning of a smoke alarm, this will usually involve vacuuming the device.
Ensuring your property and the people with it 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.
Acting now will ensure you can secure the services of an electrician to install any smoke alarms required. With the looming deadline and approximately 450,000 Queensland rental properties requiring smoke detector installation, it is likely that demand and costs will increase.
BMT 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.
Smoke alarm rules vary across Australian states and territories
Landlords interested in obtaining more information on smoke alarm legislation across Australia can visit Australian smoke alarms regulations and rules for landlords.