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What is the law?

The law overview

Under Division 7A of Part 9 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000, 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.

For homeowners

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.

For tenants

NSW legislation mandates that your landlord is responsible for ensuring your residence meets the minimum requirement of having at least one working smoke alarm installed on every level of your home.

Landlords are responsible for the installation of smoke alarms in rented premises.

Landlords have the right of access to rented premises to fit smoke alarms after giving the tenant at least two days’ notice.

After the tenancy begins, the tenant is responsible for replacing the battery, if needed, in battery-operated smoke alarms. Hard-wired smoke alarm back-up batteries are to be replaced by the landlord.

If the tenant is physically unable to change the battery the tenant is required to notify the landlord as soon as practicable.

For landlords

According to NSW legislation, neither the landlord nor the tenant are, except with reasonable excuse, permitted to remove or interfere with the operation of a smoke alarm fitted in the rented premises.

Where a smoke alarm has a replaceable battery, the landlord must put a new battery in at the commencement of a tenancy.

After the tenancy begins, the tenant is responsible for replacing the battery, if needed, in battery-operated smoke alarms. Hard-wired smoke alarm back-up batteries are to be replaced by the landlord.

If the tenant is physically unable to change the battery the tenant is required to notify the landlord as soon as practicable.

The condition report section of the tenancy agreement must include a specific reference to smoke alarms so that tenants and landlords are able to note and comment on the presence of smoke alarms at the beginning and end of the tenancy.

Owners of residential properties who rent out their premises as holiday accommodation are responsible for installing smoke alarms and replacing batteries.

Other laws apply to boarding houses and backpackers.

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 constructruted 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).