The Residential Tenancy Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Act 2012 requires smoke alarms to be installed in all Tasmanian rental properties. This means that all residential rental properties in Tasmania must have operational smoke alarms that are correctly located and maintained during occupancy.

From 1 May 2016, it became a requirement that smoke alarms be either mains powered or 10-year non-removable battery alarms.  

Residential Tenancy Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Act 2012 and Residential Tenancy (Smoke Alarms) Regulations 2012

The Residential Tenancy Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Act 2012 (the Act) requires smoke alarms to be installed in residential rental properties in Tasmania and took effect from 1 May 2013. The Act is supported by the Residential Tenancy (Smoke Alarm) Regulations 2012 (the Regulations) which set out detailed requirements regarding the:

  • Class of premises required to have smoke alarms
  • Type of smoke alarms required
  • Location of alarms in premises 
  • Obligations of property owners and tenants to maintain, test and clean smoke alarms
  • Premises required to have smoke alarms

All buildings that are tenanted under a residential tenancy agreement are required to be fitted with smoke alarms. The regulations require smoke alarms to be placed in tenanted premises that are

  • Houses, town houses, villa units etc. (Class1a)
  • Small guest houses, boarding houses accommodating up to 12 persons (Class1b)
  • Apartments and blocks of flats (Class 2)
  • Larger boarding houses (Class 3)
  • Caretaker flats and residences above shops (Class 4)

Type of smoke alarms required

Smoke alarms must comply with Australian Standard 3786-1993 Smoke Alarms, as in force from time to time. The regulations recognise that there may be changes to Standard 3786-1993 over time. In order to ensure that owners are not required to replace alarms every time this occurs, the regulations deem that once an alarm that complies with the Standard is installed in tenanted premises, it is taken to continue to comply with the Standard until such time as it:

  • No longer functions or
  • Reaches its expiry date

When an alarm is replaced, it must meet the requirements of the Standard at the time of replacement. This provision applies to alarms installed in tenanted premises both before and after commencement of the legislation.

Placement of smoke alarms in premises

The regulations set out where alarms must be located in each class of premises, in line with the relevant provisions of the Building Code of Australia. Alarms must be installed on, or near, the ceiling in each class of building/premises as follows:

Class 1a building (Houses, town houses, villa units etc.)

(a) if any storey of the premises contain a bedroom – (i) in every corridor, or hallway, situated in the storey, that is associated with a bedroom; and (ii) if there is no corridor, or hallway, situated in the storey, that is associated with a bedroom, between that part of the premises containing the bedroom and the remainder of the premises; and (b) in any other storey of the premises that does not contain a bedroom. Class 1b building (Small guesthouses, boarding houses accommodating up to 12 persons) (a) if any storey of the premises contains a bedroom – (i) in each bedroom in that storey; and (ii) in every corridor, or hallway, associated with a bedroom; and (iii) if there is no corridor, or hallway, associated with a bedroom, between that part of the premises containing the bedroom and the remainder of the premises; and (b) in any other storey of the premises that does not contain a bedroom.

Responsibilities of owners

Mains-powered smoke alarms

At the beginning of a tenancy, owners must ensure that:

  • Alarms are connected to mains power
  • Back-up batteries are installed
  • Back-up batteries have not reached their expiry date and will not do so within 30 days of the tenancy commencing
  • Back up batteries function effectively
  • Alarms are free from dust and debris
  • Alarms function effectively
  • Alarms have not reached their expiry date

During the period of a tenancy, owners must ensure that back-up batteries for mains powered alarms are replaced if the batteries:

  • Have not been replaced for 12 months or more
  • Have reached their expiry date or
  • No longer function effectively or at all

Ten-year non-removable battery alarms

At the beginning of a tenancy, owners must ensure that all alarms:

  • Are free from dust and debris
  • Function effectively
  • Have not reached their expiry date

During the period of a tenancy, owners must ensure that 10-year non-removable battery smoke alarms are replaced if they:

  • Have reached their expiry date or
  • No longer function effectively or at all

Owners must ensure that smoke alarms are repaired or replaced as soon as practicable after becoming aware that the alarm has reached its expiry date or no longer functions effectively. The only exception is where the alarm fails to function effectively due to the failure of removable batteries or the mains power supply. The tenant is responsible for correcting these problems.

Under the Residential Tenancy Act 1997, property owners need to give at least 24 hours’ notice before entering the premises to undertake any maintenance of or repairs to smoke alarms.

Responsibility of tenants 

Tenants are not responsible for the replacement of batteries providing back up for mains powered smoke alarms. 10-year non-removable Lithium alarms do not require annual battery replacement. 

Maintenance and testing of smoke alarms

During a tenancy, every six months tenants are required to:

  • Test all smoke alarms installed at the premises and
  • Remove any dust and debris from the smoke alarms

Failure or malfunction of a smoke alarm

Where a smoke alarms fails or malfunctions, for reasons other than the failure of removable batteries or the mains power supply, a tenant must notify the owner as soon as practicable after becoming aware of the failure or malfunction.

Miscellaneous provisions

The Act makes it an offence to remove or interfere with the operation of a smoke alarm in a tenanted property, except where alarms are removed for the purposes of repair or replacement. The Act also imposes penalties for failure to comply with these provisions.

Where it is not practicable to install a smoke alarm on or near the ceiling, the regulations permit a smoke alarm to be installed in a place where it will, if activated, alert people in the property to the presence of smoke. The Act clarifies that where a rental property is subject to the control of a body corporate under the Strata Titles Act 1998, an owner is not required to obtain permission from the body corporate in order to install a smoke alarm in accordance with the Act. The Act also authorises the Residential Tenancy Commissioner to make an order requiring a party to a residential tenancy agreement to comply with a provision of the Act.

Note: The information provided here is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice. No responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions it may contain. For precision, reference should be made to the Residential Tenancy Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Act 2012 and the Residential Tenancy (Smoke Alarm) Regulations 2012.

For more information and pricing for compliance inspections and installations please contact our office.