Smoke Alarm Laws in Queensland When Buying/Selling Property
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In 2022, legislation came into effect in Queensland which requires anyone selling their home to disclose whether or not compliant smoke alarms have been installed in the property.
When selling a property in Queensland, it is crucial that the smoke alarms are installed in compliance with that legislation. Here is what you should know about smoke alarm laws in Queensland when buying or selling property.
At what stage of a property sale or purchase should disclosure be made about smoke alarms?
A vendor must make a disclosure in the contract of sale as to whether or not the property is fitted with compliant smoke alarms as well as at settlement. The disclosure at settlement is made on the ‘Form 24 Transfer of Title’ form, which is an official document lodged with Titles Queensland as part of the conveyancing process. This information is accessible by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.
Before settlement, the buyer is entitled to have a professional, licensed electrician inspect the property to ensure that the disclosure is accurate.
Can the buyer cancel the contract if the property does not have compliant smoke alarms?
No. The buyer does not have the right to cancel the contract but has the right under the standard terms and conditions in the contract where they will be entitled to a reduction of the purchase price. Depending on the purchase price, this could cost the vendor thousands of dollars, so it is prudent for them to ensure they have compliant smoke alarms fitted prior to selling.
Are there penalties for failing to comply with smoke alarm laws?
Yes. Failure to comply with smoke alarm laws may give rise to fines or penalties or insurance being void. It is in the vendor’s best interests to ensure their home is compliant with the smoke alarm legislation before they attempt to sell their home.
What type of smoke alarms must be fitted and where?
Smoke alarms must be compliant with Australian standards, less than 10 years old and in working order. They should also be photoelectric and must not contain an ionization sensor.
To ensure compliance, the smoke alarms must be hardwired into the main’s power supply, if it is hardwired. If not, smoke alarms can be:
- hardwired; or
- powered by a non-removable 10-year battery; and
- interconnected with all of the property’s smoke alarms, so that all activate simultaneously.
They should be installed:
- in each of the bedrooms; and
- on each floor of the property.
If the home does not have a hallway, a smoke alarm should be installed between the bedroom and another part of the floor.
If one or more of the floors do not have bedroom(s), there must be at least one smoke alarm positioned in the most likely path one would use to exit the home.
Prior to selling, the vendor should ensure the smoke alarms are cleaned and tested. If they are not in good working order they should be replaced or upgraded to meet compliance.
I’m selling a unit. Is there anything else I should know about smoke alarm laws?
Some body corporates have additional rules pertaining to smoke alarms. It is important to confirm these prior to selling to ensure that the smoke alarms in your unit are compliant with any specific requirements.
How can a buyer tell if a property is compliant with smoke alarm laws?
Buyers should assess the location and upkeep of the smoke alarms and the compliance certificate when they are house hunting.
Check that smoke alarms have been installed in each bedroom, in the hallways connecting the bedrooms (or somewhere between the bedroom and the rest of the floor) and on every level of the property. Ensure that they are interconnected.
Enquire about how the smoke alarms have been maintained. Ideally, they will be tested at least once a month, with the batteries replaced every year or in line with the manufacturer’s instructions.
Check that a compliance certificate exists by asking the vendor to produce it prior to agreeing to purchase the property. Ensure it contains relevant information about the smoke alarms. If you have already signed the contract and you have not seen the compliance certificate, ask your conveyancer to seek a copy from the vendor.
Does a vendor need to provide documents proving the smoke alarms are compliant?
Yes. Vendors need to prove that their smoke alarms are compliant with the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) legislation by supplying a smoke alarm compliance certificate, which is issued by a licensed electrician or smoke alarm installer. The certificate will provide confirmation that the smoke alarms comply with the Australian Standard (AS) 3786-2014 and that they have been installed and interconnected in line with the legislation.
The certificate, which must be provided to the buyer, should include details of the installation, including the date of installation, the smoke alarm type, location and description, the installer’s name and license number, and warranty details (if any).
If you are planning to sell your home and need advice on whether it is compliant with Queensland smoke alarm laws, contact Cairns Conveyancing Solicitors today.