New smoke alarm regulation – are you clear?

27 July 2022

Despite the new smoke alarm regulation being in place for some time, many investor owners, property managers and bodies corporate are still unclear about their obligations and responsibilities.

This article is about the new smoke alarm regulation that is applicable to lots in a community title scheme which might be sold or leased (whether new lease or existing lease being renewed).  From 1 January 2022, the smoke alarms in these lots must:

  • be photoelectric (AS3786-2014);
  • not also contain an ionisation sensor;
  • be less than 10 years old;
  • operate when tested; and
  • be interconnected with every other smoke alarm in the lot so all are activated together.

The legislation sets out that the smoke alarms must be installed in the following locations in a lot:

  • on each storey;
  • in each bedroom;
  • if there is no hallway, between the bedroom and other parts of the storey; and
  • if there are no bedrooms on a storey, at least one smoke alarm must be installed in the most likely path of travel to exit the lot.

The smoke alarms must be hardwired to the mains power supply if they are currently hardwired.  Otherwise, they can be either hardwired or powered by a non-removable 10 year battery or a combination of both.

Who is responsible to install and maintain the new smoke alarm – lot owner or body corporate? 

Generally, the lot owner is responsible for maintaining their own lot, whereas the body corporate is responsible for maintaining common property.

However as a consequence of the BCCM Act, if the smoke alarm in a lot is connected or wired to the scheme building central alarm panel, or smoke alarms in other lots or smoke alarms on common property, then the body corporate is responsible for the installation and maintenance of smoke alarms.

What should a resident manager do?

As caretaker and manager your duties usually include notifying the body corporate of any changes to fire safety requirements and advising the body corporate of any non-compliance of any relevant laws concerning the maintenance and operation of the common property.  You should do this by communicating the new smoke alarm requirements to the body corporate and suggesting any actions required by the body corporate if appropriate.

As letting agent, you should notify lot owners who have lots in your letting pool of the new smoke alarm requirements, and ensure that as soon as practical, certainly before the lot is sold or leased (which as above includes a lease renewal), the new smoke alarms are installed.