New South Wales Smoke Alarm Legislation

NSW short term rental accommodation amendments (STRA)

A new policy has been introduced via amendments to State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009 and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 (EP&A Regulation).

What has been introduced?

  • new fire safety standards for dwellings used for STRA and associated penalty notice offences for non-compliance; and
  • create a new Government-run STRA Register that will ensure compliance with the new fire safety standards, as well track the day limits of each STRA dwelling

When will this happen?

The amendments will come into effect from the 1st November 2021.

What does it mean?

The existing alarms in the property may or may not be sufficient, the property may require additional and or different alarms to adhere to the new amendments.

STRA Register

From 30 July 2021, all dwellings proposed to be used for STRA will be required to be registered on the new STRA Register.

Registration ensures that all STRA dwellings satisfy the new fire safety standard, as well as having the ability to capture the number of days a dwelling is used for STRA.

Visit the NSW planning website for further information.

New Smoke Alarm obligations for Landlords

From 23 March 2020, all NSW landlords will need to ensure that smoke alarms installed in the rented property are in working order. A penalty will apply for landlords who fail to comply.

The details on when a landlord must repair or replace a battery-operated or hardwired smoke alarm, and when a tenant may repair or replace a smoke alarm, is in the new Regulation. The existing provision that allows landlords to enter the property without consent has been extended to specifically include inspecting or assessing the need for repairs to, or replacement of, a smoke alarm if proper notice has been given to the tenant.

Information for landlords  

To ensure smoke alarms installed in the rented property are in working order, a landlord must:

  • carry out annual checks to ensure all smoke alarms installed at the property are in working order
  • replace a removable battery in all smoke alarms in the period specified by the smoke alarm manufacturer (for a removable lithium battery), or otherwise annually
  • repair or replace a smoke alarm that is not working within 2 business days of becoming aware that it is not working or (b) cause the smoke alarm to be repaired or replaced
  • replace a smoke alarm with a new smoke alarm within 10 years from the manufactured date, or earlier if specified by the smoke alarm manufacturer.
More information

Visit the Key changes to smoke alarm requirements for rented homes page to read more on who can repair or replace a smoke alarm or change a battery in a tenancy.

NSW Smoke Alarm Legislation

Smoke alarms are mandatory in those homes and other shared accommodation buildings where people sleep as specified in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 (NSW) (EPA Regulation).

Property managers (as agent for the landlord), landlords and tenants have specific responsibilities in regards to smoke alarms:

  • Landlords must ensure that smoke alarms are installed and maintained.
  • Neither the landlord nor the tenant are permitted to remove or interfere with the operation of a smoke alarm installed in the rented premises, unless they have a reasonable excuse to do so.
  • Landlords have the right of access to rented premises to fit or maintain smoke alarms, providing the tenant has been given at least two days’ notice.
  • Where the smoke alarm has a replaceable battery, it is recommended that the landlord fit a new battery at the beginning of a tenancy.
  • Owners of residential property who rent out their premises as holiday accommodation are responsible for installing smoke alarms and replacing batteries.

The Regulation requires that smoke alarms:

  • comply with Australian Standard AS 3786M5;
  • be installed on or near the ceiling in every corridor or hallway associated with a bedroom or, if there is no corridor or hallway, between the part of the home containing the bedroom and rest of the dwelling.

The NSW Parliament has passed the Residential Tenancies Amendment (Review) Bill 2018 providing that only landlords can carry out repairs to smoke alarms, except for certain kinds of smoke alarms and repairs. A penalty will apply for landlords who fail to repair a smoke alarm.