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Renting a Home

Smoke alarms in rental properties

All rental properties in Tasmania must have smoke alarms.  The Residential Tenancy Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Act 2012, the Residential Tenancy Act 1997 and the Residential Tenancy (Smoke Alarm) Regulations 2012 set out:

  • the type of building and where smoke alarms must be located;
  • the type of smoke alarms required (battery or mains powered); and
  • the maintenance, testing and cleaning of smoke alarms by property owners and tenants.

Complying with the Australian Standard

  • Smoke alarms must comply with Australian Standard (AS3786-1993 Smoke Alarms).
  • Compliant smoke alarms are available at most electrical appliance outlets and hardware stores.
  • Even if the Standard changes, compliance with the Standard will continue until the alarm:
    • no longer functions; or
    • reaches its expiry date.
  • A replacement alarm must meet the requirements of the current Standard at the time of replacement.

Hard wired smoke alarms must be installed by a qualified electrician. This person must be aware of all the relevant Standards relating to the installation.

More information is available from Standards Australia

Do the alarms have to be battery or mains powered?

  • From 1 May 2013 until 30 April 2016 smoke alarms can be:
    • battery powered (by either a 9 volt removable or a 10 year non-removable battery); or
    • mains powered (provided it complies with AS3786-1993).
  • From 1 May 2016 smoke alarms will be required to be either:
    • mains powered; or
    • battery powered by a 10 year non-removable battery.

Where to install smoke alarms in buildings (building classes)

Alarms must be installed on or near the ceiling.  Where this isn't practicable, a smoke alarm can be installed in a place where it will alert people in the property to the presence of smoke.

There are five building classes and the specific installation requirements are:

Class 1a building (houses, town houses, villa units)

  • If any storey of a Class 1a building contains a bedroom, a smoke alarm must be installed

    in every corridor or hallway that is associated with a bedroom; and

  • If there is no corridor or hallway, a smoke alarm needs to be installed between that part of the building containing the bedroom and the rest of the building; and
  • In any other storey of the building that does not contain a bedroom.

Class 1b building (small guesthouses, boarding houses accommodating up to 12 persons)

  • If any storey of a Class 1b building contains a bedroom, a smoke alarm must be installed:
    • in each bedroom in that storey; and
    • in every corridor or hallway associated with a bedroom; and
  • If there is no corridor or hallway associated with a bedroom, a smoke alarm must be installed:
    • between that part of the building containing the bedroom and the rest of the building; and
  • In any other storey of the building that does not contain a bedroom.

Class 2 building (apartments and blocks of flats)

  • If any storey of a Class 2 building contains a bedroom, a smoke alarm must be installed:
    • in the building, and every corridor or hallway associated with a bedroom in that storey; and
  • If there is no corridor or hallway associated with a bedroom, a smoke alarm must be installed:
    • between that part of the building containing the bedroom and the rest of the building; and
  • In exit paths in any other storey of the building that does not contain a bedroom.

Class 3 building (larger boarding houses)

  • If any storey of a Class 3 building contains a bedroom, a smoke alarm needs to be installed:
    • in the building, and every corridor or hallway associated with a bedroom in that storey; and
  • If there is no corridor or hallway associated with a bedroom, a smoke alarm must be installed:
    • between that part of the building containing the bedroom and the rest of the building; and
  • In exit paths in any other storey of the building that does not contain a bedroom.

Class 4 premises (caretaker flats and residences above shops)

  • If any storey of a Class 4 building contains a bedroom, a smoke alarm must be installed:
    • in the building, and in every corridor or hallway associated with a bedroom in that storey; and
  • If there is no corridor or hallway, associated with a bedroom, a smoke alarm must be installed:
    • between the part of the building containing the bedroom and the remainder of the building; and
  • In exit paths in any other storey of the building that does not contain a bedroom.

More information about the classes of buildings is available in the Building Code of Australia

What if the building is a strata title?

A property owner is not required to get permission from the body corporate to install a smoke alarm if a rental property is subject to the Strata Titles Act 1998.

Removing or interfering with a smoke alarm

It is an offence under the Act to remove or interfere with the operation of a smoke alarm in a tenanted property unless the alarms are removed to be repaired or replaced.  The Act imposes penalties for not complying with these provisions.

What happens if a property or tenant does not comply with the Act?

The Residential Tenancy Commissioner is authorised to make an order requiring a property owner or tenant to comply with a provision of the Act.

Legislation

Residential Tenancy Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Act 2012

Residential Tenancy Act 1997

Residential Tenancy (Smoke Alarm) Regulations 2012