In residential premises

To enhance safety and minimise loss-of-life in building fires, the NSW Parliament enacted the Building Legislation Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Act in July 2005. The Act allows regulations to be made to require smoke alarms to be installed in existing buildings in which people sleep. A smoke alarm is an effective early warning device designed to detect smoke and alert building occupants to the presence of a fire. Installed in the correct location, it increases the time available for safe escape.

From 1 May 2006, when the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Regulation 2006 came into effect, owners of residential property are responsible for ensuring smoke alarms are installed.

The Smoke Alarms Regulation specifies which types of buildings will need smoke alarms installed, the types of alarms, where they are to be located and other matters. Contact details for more information about the requirements under the Regulation are listed in this factsheet.

Changes to fair trading laws

Several fair trading laws and regulations have been revised as a result of the new smoke alarm laws and this information summarises these changes for the people that are affected.

Landlords and tenants

Under the Residential Tenancies Act and the Residential Tenancies (Residential Premises) Regulation:
Landlords are responsible for the installation of smoke alarms in rented premises.
Landlords have the right of access to rented premises to fit smoke alarms after giving the tenant at least 2 days notice.
Neither the landlord nor the tenant are, except with reasonable excuse, permitted to remove or interfere with the operation of a smoke alarm fitted in the rented premises.

Where a smoke alarm is of the type that has a replaceable battery, the landlord must put a new battery in at the commencement of a tenancy. After the tenancy begins, the tenant is responsible for replacing the battery if needed. However, if the tenant is physically unable to change the battery the tenant is required to notify the landlord as soon as practicable after becoming aware of the need for it to be replaced.

The tenant is not responsible for the replacement of batteries in ‘hard-wired’ smoke alarm systems that have battery back-up. This is the responsibility of the landlord.

The condition report section of the tenancy agreement must include a specific reference to smoke alarms so that tenants and landlords are able to note and comment on the presence of smoke alarms at the beginning and end of the tenancy.

IMPORTANT – Owners of residential property who rent out their premises as holiday accommodation are responsible for installing smoke alarms and replacing batteries.

Owners and residents of residential parks

Under the Residential Parks Regulation:

The above obligations on park owners equally apply to residents who sub-let their moveable dwellings.

Strata scheme lot owners

In a strata scheme:

Lot owners who rent out their strata scheme residential property should note their responsibilities as landlords in relation to smoke alarms under the Residential Tenancies Act and the Residential Tenancies (Residential Premises) Regulation.
Operators and residents of retirement villages

Under the Retirement Villages Regulation: