Victorian Smoke Alarm Legislation Changes
Published August 2021
Bonnie Hutchison from Smoke Alarm Solutions Victoria, is the Southern Territory Manager for the Sales Team. Bonnie provides helpful answers to common questions regarding the changes to Smoke Alarm Legislation in Victoria
Why were changes to Victorian Smoke Alarm legislation implemented?
The Victorian rental market has changed significantly over the last two decades with many Australians delaying the purchase of a home and renting for longer. The Victorian government has implemented changes for fairer and safer housing intending to balance the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords from the moment a rental agreement is signed until after the agreement ends.
The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act of 2018 was fair and safe legislation around rental properties. However, the Victorian Government has implemented an overhaul of particular safety elements which has made regular safety checks mandatory.
When did the changes come into effect?
The first proposed draft of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act was released in November of 2019 with the legislation due to come into effect in March of 2020. COVID-19 delayed the legislation with it officially coming into effect on 29th March 2021.
What are the changes to the Victorian legislation regarding smoke alarms?
There have been three main changes to the legislation regarding smoke alarms:
1) Smoke alarms must be inspected and maintained every 12 months by suitably qualified technicians. This would potentially exclude the average landlord and property managers from inspecting rental properties, as they are not specifically trained to do so.
2) The legislation states that relevant inspection documents must be completed either on, or before the date of the new lease, and certification of inspection must be passed on to the tenant.
3) Tenants must be given access to the smoke alarm manual(s) installed in each property, including a reminder of the tenant’s duty of care to not tamper with the property’s smoke alarms, and to advise of any faults as soon as possible.
Are there new requirements for gas and electrical safety inspections?
In addition to the smoke alarm legislation, there are now mandatory requirements for gas and electricity items to be inspected as well. Inspections are required every 12 months for smoke alarms and electricity but biennially for gas appliances (every two years).
All inspections must be completed by suitably qualified, licensed electricians, or A-type gas fitters. Issued certificates must then be passed on to the tenant on or before the date that a tenant enters into the new tenancy agreement.
Is the legislation compulsory?
The legislation is mandatory and carries heavy penalties for non-compliance, including fines that can be issued by the Victorian government.
The additional implications are regarding the landlord’s insurance coverage if a property is found to be non-compliant. In the case of an incident, insurance companies will want to see proof of compliance along with the insurance claim.
What are Smoke Alarm Solutions doing to ensure property managers and their landlords meet these new requirements?
Smoke Alarms Solutions have introduced the new Home Safe Solutions subscription package that covers the trio of services required under the new legislation. It's a ‘one-stop shop’ solution whereby we cover the smoke alarm, electrical, and gas safety requirements under the new legislation.
What about electrical and gas?
For electrical and gas safety we are identifying and inspecting all items noted in the new legislation. For example, our electricians will identify landlord-installed appliances, installations, and fittings. Our Type-A Gas Fitters will also check for landlord-installed appliances, check the mains gas line, and check for any faults and ensure the property is safe.
Certification is something that we provide for landlords and agents to provide to their tenants with all three services.
What about properties without gas appliances?
We also offer a smoke alarm and electrical-only Home Safe Solutions subscription.
What final message do you have for Victorian property managers and landlords?
The Victorian legislation can be overwhelming. Smoke Alarm Solutions are compliance experts and we are ready to offer assistance.
Give us a call. We are here to help you understand the legislation and feel confident about the decisions that you're going to make moving forward.
We pride ourselves on being experts in compliance rather than just offering a product. Let us do what we do best so that you can continue offering your clients a premium service.