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Are You Unwittingly Committing Crimes at Home?

By Craig Sharp

It is easy to believe that we are all invincible, and that a fire in our place of residence is one of the last things we need to worry about. However, don’t fall into a false sense of security, smoke alarms are essential, not just by common sense, but legally too. According to the Department of Fair Trading Queensland website every residence in Queensland must be fitted with at least one working smoke alarm.

Landlords are legally responsible for fitting smoke alarms to rental properties and it is the legal responsibility of the tenant/s to make sure that alarms are maintained. In fact in Queensland it’s against the law for the tenants to interfere with the effectiveness of the smoke alarm. Tenants are required to keep the smoke alarm in working order throughout their tenancy.

Some smoke alarms go off due to something minor like burnt toast. Accordingly people often find this alarming and inconvenient and in order to stop the noise people sometimes decide the smoke alarm is overly sensitive and do something silly like removing the battery. That’s where you can get into trouble.

If you’re a tenant, stop, think and remember, do not interfere with the operation of that smoke alarm! If you’re burning your toast, don’t just take out the battery, not only is this senseless, but it is a breach of your lease, and not in line with legislation standards. In addition to being in breach of lease contract and doing something illegal, you can be unwittingly jeopardising your chances of securing your next rental property. Why? Didn’t you know that your prospective property manager will contact your current/previous property manager and ask if there were any breaches throughout the duration of the lease? In this case, it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry. A comprehensive table of responsibilities is available on the RTA smoke alarms fact sheet here

Responsibilities fall on both the tenants and landlords for maintaining smoke alarms at a property. For example:

Tenants must inform their property manager or landlord immediately when a smoke alarm has failed or needs replacing (this does not include changing batteries)

Lessors must install smoke alarms in their property in accordance with the Building Code of Australia and in compliance with Australian standards.

If this subject is making you hot under the collar you may want to investigate fanning the responsibility off onto a third party such as:

Safety Watch Australia
Smoke Alarm Solutions

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