The bottleneck of demand is here. Property managers need to act now.
Published August 2021
Melanie Tazelaar, the Marketing Manager for Smoke Alarm Solutions, provides a market update regarding Queensland's new smoke alarm legislation and the pending 2022 deadline.
We are still seeing an overwhelming number of smaller companies and local electricians entering the smoke alarm compliance market. These opportunistic companies, which are often smaller in size, are trying to take advantage of the change in legislation. However, we are discovering incorrect property upgrades on a regular basis.
On average, we see around 31 properties each month where an attempt has been made to upgrade a property’s smoke alarms to comply with the new legislation, but failed. This is costing landlords thousands because a failed upgrade means they need to do the process twice. This presents difficulties for the more professional companies such as ours, as we are contacted to rectify the poorly upgraded properties which further increase the demand.
In addition, we are seeing smoke alarm providers unable to take on new properties or simply refusing to upgrade properties for private landlords. Smoke alarm providers are having to make really tough decisions now because they know they're not going to have the resources that the demand requires of them before the 2022 deadline.
Due to the increased demand, we're also seeing external providers who are cutting corners on quality and compliance to get through the volumes of work. You only need to take a look on employment websites to see the number of recruitment ads for smoke alarm electricians and technicians across Queensland. There's simply not enough labour to meet the demand.
Some of the issues we see are that smoke alarm companies are using cheap smoke alarm brands which they've sourced online. It's important to keep in mind that alarms must be interconnected from 2022. What this means is that the warranty on these alarms will rely upon all the alarms installed in the property being the same brand. If you've bought a cheap brand online, the chances of being able to source that same brand, later on, may become difficult and will not be compliant with the new legislation.
Something else to keep in mind is that COVID-19 has brought with it many changes and there are rumors of a shortage in componentry for smoke alarms in the next six months. We recommend discussing supply with your service provider to ensure your landlords and their rental properties are protected from the risk of stock shortages.
The anticipated rush to meet the 2022 compliance is here. We're seeing two ends of the spectrum when it comes to smoke alarm compliance. We're seeing some Real Estate Agents that have already made a plan to start upgrading their rental properties to meet compliance. On the other hand, other Real Estate agents are only just now looking into their options to start upgrades.
We do recommend that people make upgrades an immediate priority. The average industry wait time is six plus weeks and we see this only increasing as we approach 2022. Especially keeping in mind that properties sold from 2022 will need to comply as well.
Smoke Alarm Solutions services one in three rental properties in Queensland. We are well prepared for the task at hand and we've been focusing on our recruitment, training, workflows and even digital enhancements with 2022 in mind. We are well resourced to ensure our client's compliance needs will be met, however, we need property managers to act now.
From 2022, lease renewal dates will dictate the demand for upgrades and those that have not moved early may find themselves in a costly and tricky situation. My advice to those that have not yet upgraded is to not assume you can leave it until November or December to get the upgrade done because it simply won't happen. You must secure your slot now or risk being non-compliant on your 2022 lease renewal, and therefore risk not being able to rent your property due to non-compliance.
We launched our solutions portal just over a year ago and we now have over 90% of our clients engaging with the resources each month. The most consistent feedback we are receiving is how useful the dashboard is in helping property managers with those really large rent rolls and coordinate the upgrade to ensure timely completion. Our account managers are also well equipped to assist property managers with the challenges that come with coordinating the work orders and ensuring compliance before the 2022 deadline.
To meet the requests from the market for a more cost-effective smoke alarm, we've recently partnered with our preferred brand Emerald Alarms. These alarms are priced affordably whilst also providing the highest level of quality and we're extremely confident that the supply will not be an issue in the future. In terms of the componentry, it also makes sense for our field staff to have a great deal of stock with one brand rather than trying to cater to that ever-growing list of smoke alarms that are being introduced into the market. It's these types of considerations that we want our property managers to be aware of and that we are looking into.
My final message to the real estate industry is to act now. Demand for smoke alarm upgrades is increasing by the day. Don't get caught out and risk not being able to rent out your properties in 2022.