Where there’s smoke there’s potentially fire
Fire can pose a threat to people and property.
It is vital that landlords are aware of their responsibilities in installing and maintaining smoke alarms in their rental properties because apart from being required by law, it could also be a matter of life and death.
Many landlords are still unclear on their responsibilities when it comes to smoke alarms; and with laws governing smoke alarms differing from state to state, there are grey areas and much room for confusion.
A landlord may even misinterpret a property manager’s advice on the testing of smoke alarms as an unnecessary cost whereas in most states, it is a legal responsibility to do so.
This responsibility can extend to the cleaning of smoke alarms. It may also include professional testing, ensuring alarms were tested at the legally required time intervals, ensuring the right type of smoke alarms installed, minimum voltage requirements were met or mains powered smoke alarms fitted.
Landlords needed to be aware of the required intervals for the testing of smoke alarms in their rental properties. While property managers could often organise for smoke alarms to be professionally tested, landlords were ultimately responsible for complying and educating themselves on smoke alarm laws in their state or territory.
If landlords are unsure of what actions they need to take, they should speak with their property manager right away.
All home occupiers, whether they are owners, tenants or landlords should keep up to date with the information available through their relevant fire services and statutory bodies.
The Queensland Fire and Rescue website, www.fire.qld.gov.au, for example, has excellent checklists for landlords and tenants, and general precautions to protect residents and their homes including:
Have a planned safe means of escape.
Have a written and practiced escape plan.
Have all keys to locked doors and windows readily available.
Have an adequate number of smoke alarms and test them regularly.
Have a working fire extinguisher in the home.
Never leave cooking or other open flames unattended.
Never smoke in bed.
Keep lighters and matches away from children.
Don’t overload power points.
Regularly clean lint from the clothes dryer.