Architecture and Renovation, Brisbane landlords

Landlords, tenants, sellers and buyers: the new laws affect you

smoke alarmWould the smell of smoke wake you from a deep sleep? Are you confident you could escape a burning home in less than 3 minutes? Latest research suggests fires in modern homes are burning a lot faster, leaving a much shorter escape window. And there’s a good chance the home’s occupants will be asleep, with almost half of our fatal home fires occurring between midnight and 8am. So the government’s smoke alarms that came in on July 1st 2007 are well warranted, despite the extra work and costs.

The Building Code’s required smoke alarms since 1997 for new and renovated homes, but the Fire Service estimate 200,000 Queensland homes still don’t have them. Many of us grabbed one from Bunnings a few years back and double-sided taped them to the ceiling… but those middle of the night battery beeps might have since seen them ripped down! So here’s a quick look at the new requirements:

  • All homes must have at least one outside sleeping areas and one per floor
  • When you sell a home you’ve got to declare that you have them
  • If you’re a landlord you must clean and test alarms and change batteries as needed before the start of all tenancies
  • Tenants must clean, test and change batteries at least once per year. Those delightful beeps should go off every 60 seconds for 7 days prior to the battery going flat.

    Go to for all the info.

The smoke alarm rules come on top of the recent safety switch requirements. Designed to monitor electricity flows and shut off the supply when there’s a current leakage, safety switches must now also be installed in every Queensland home. Again these have been standard since 1992 but we see older units particularly where these haven’t been done, with owners mistakenly thinking it’s a body corporate issue.

  • Landlords – you should have put one in within 6 months of starting a new tenancy (or at the latest March 2008 if your tenants have been long term)
  • Sellers have to declare if they have one, and if not the buyer must have it installed within 3 months of settlement.
  • For those of you about to run out to the meter box – it usually has the word “test” written on it! It should cost around $220-250 to have one installed.