What is the law?
The law overview
Under Division 7A of Part 9 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 [external link], smoke alarms must be installed in all buildings in NSW where people sleep. The smoke alarms must meet the requirements of Australian Standard AS 3786, Smoke Alarms. These provisions came into effect on 1 May 2006.
NSW legislation provides for a minimum level of protection; however, Fire and Rescue NSW recommends owners and occupants consider higher levels of protection.
NSW legislation stipulates that smoke alarms must be installed on every level of your home.
This includes owner occupied homes, rental properties, relocatable homes, caravans and camper-vans or any other residential building where people sleep.
These alarms must be placed in hallways near bedrooms; however, if bedrooms are in different parts of the house, you must have alarms installed in each of these locations. If there are no hallways associated with the bedrooms, alarms must be installed between the part of the home containing the bedroom and the rest of the house. You must have smoke alarms on all levels of your home even if there are no bedrooms located on that level.
NSW legislation mandates that your landlord is responsible for ensuring your residence meets the minimal requirements of having at least one working smoke alarm installed on every level of your home.
Tenants must notify their landlord or agent if they discover that a smoke alarm is not working (this includes when the battery needs to be changed).
Tenants must notify their landlord when they change a battery in a smoke alarm or engage a licensed electrician to repair or replace an alarm. The different circumstances where a tenant can change a battery or engage a licensed electrician are provided by the Department of Fair Training NSW’s website here [external link]. This does not apply to social housing tenants.
From 23 March 2020, NSW landlords and agents need to ensure that smoke alarms installed in rented properties are in working order.
Where a smoke alarm is not in working order, landlords and agents must ensure the alarm is repaired (this includes replacing a battery) within 2 business days.
Landlords and agents must check smoke alarms every year to ensure they are working.
Landlords and agents must ensure:
- smoke alarms are replaced within 10 years of manufacture, or earlier if specified by the manufacturer
- batteries are installed or replaced every year (or for lithium batteries, in the period specified by the manufacturer).
Landlords and agents must give at least 2 business days’ notice to inspect or assess the need for smoke alarm repair or replacement, and at least 1 hour notice to carry out repair or replacement of a smoke alarm.
Further information to help landlords and agents understand their responsibilities for different types of smoke alarms, and the situations where a tenant can change a battery in a smoke alarm or arrange for a repair can be found at the Department of Fair Training NSW’s website here [external link].
For caravans and motorhomes
Caravans and campervans have limited escape options in the event of a fire. You have just a few seconds to get out of a burning caravan, as they are constructed of lightweight and and potentially highly combustible fittings. A working smoke alarm can mean the difference between life and death.
NSW legislation stipulates that you must have at least one working smoke alarm inside the van where the bed is, and one in the annex if people are sleeping there.
These smoke alarms must be fitted with a "hush" button, allowing the occupant to silence the alarm for 10 minutes.
Smoke alarms can be purchased at most major supermarkets and hardware stores across NSW.
Smoke alarms must meet Australian Standards 3786 (AS3786).