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 In Lifestyle Property Management

The Importance of Maintaining Your Smoke Alarms

Being proactive by ensuring the safety of the rental property and performing regular checks is essential. A working smoke alarm in the home can certainly stop a disaster from occurring.

With winter well and truly upon us, it is crucial that both landlords and tenants understand their responsibilities when it comes to fire safety and smoke alarms in a rental property.

Victorian law stipulates that all homes, apartments and townhouses must have smoke alarms installed. For buildings constructed after 1 August 1997, hard wired smoke alarms with a battery back up must be installed. For buildings constructed prior to that date, a battery powered smoke alarm is required.

Both the landlord and tenant bear some responsibility when it comes to smoke alarms. It is the responsibility of the landlord to install smoke detectors and ensure these are in good working order when a tenant moves in to the rental property.

‘The landlord is responsible for the installation of the smoke alarms, however it is the tenant’s responsibility to test them periodically. We recommend testing them at the start and end of daylight savings,’ says Marshall White property manager, Jade Atkins.

If the tenant thinks the smoke alarm may be faulty or not working correctly, Jade advises they contact their property manager urgently. She directs anyone wanting to know more information about installation and maintenance to Consumer Affairs Victoria.

The tenant should never remove the smoke detectors and must also ensure the batteries are regularly replaced. If an occasional chirping sound is omitted from the alarm, you should contact your property manager, as this means there is an issue.

Jade explains that if a fire does occur in a rental property, who bears responsibility depends on the individual insurance policies. Generally, a tenant’s own contents insurance will cover the cost of damages to the tenant’s possessions.

It is the responsibility of the landlord to install smoke detectors and ensure these are in good working order when a tenant moves in to the rental property.

In terms of who is liable for structural damages in the case of a major fire, some insurance policies stipulate whoever is at fault will pay the excess. If the fire is caused by faulty structural elements, such as an electrical fault, the landlord is considered liable. If a tenant or their guests cause the fire, the landlord’s insurance company may pursue the tenant to cover the excess. It is critical to have a thorough understanding of your insurance policies, in the unlikely event of a fire.

Being proactive by ensuring the safety of the rental property and performing regular checks is essential. A working smoke alarm in the home can certainly stop a disaster from occurring.

Marshall White offers a maintenance check service to our landlords. For an annual fee, a certified professional will visit your property and service all smoke alarms on the premises to ensure they are in proper working order.

‘We highly recommend this service to all of our landlords. To sign up, they simply need to email their property manager and we will organise the rest,’ says Jade.

If you need any further assistance or have any questions, please contact our Marshall White Property Management Team (03) 9822 8711.

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