10 Safety Requirements for Landlords
If you’re a landlord, there are obligations you should be aware of in regards to your rental property. These can relate to fire alarms, gas safety, and electrical safety. While electrical work is a highly specialised field and professional gas and electrical services are the best way to ensure that all equipment and wiring are adequately installed, these five tips provide a good basis for getting started.
1. Smoke Alarms
Landlords are required to ensure that all properties are fitted with smoke alarms. The number of alarms much be appropriate for the property size, as prescribed under the Building Code of Australia (‘the Code’). The alarms must also be working in accordance with Australian Standard 3786-1993 and correctly positioned as under the Code.
- Each alarm must be tested and cleaned within 30 days before the start of a tenancy (including renewals).
- Batteries that are spent or known to be almost spent should be replaced within 30 days before the start of a new tenancy or the start of a tenancy renewal period.
- Alarms should be replaced before reaching the end of their service life, usually indicated by the warranty.
2. Safety Switches
Some, though not all states and territories impose a duty on the landlord to install safety switches for power outlets, lighting circuits, and power circuits. These rules apply in various forms in Queensland and Western Australia, while other states and territories have their own specific recommendations or requirements. Penalties may apply if safety switches are not installed. If in doubt, consult a licensed electrician about your obligations.
3. Electrical Safety
While residential tenancy requirements can vary from state to state or territory, generally, landlords must take measures to ensure a level of electrical safety on rental property.
- All electrical work should be performed by only licensed persons.
- Before leasing the property and accepting new tenancies, the landlord should ensure all the appliances are in good, safe working order. Dirty appliances should be cleaned in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Faulty appliances should be replaced.
- Appliances and wiring should be checked to ensure that there is no damage to wiring or casing.
For tenants, the following may apply:
- Tenants should use appliances according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- If repairs or maintenance is required, the tenant should allow the landlord’s electrician access to carry out the repairs.
- Tenants should report any faults to the landlord or directly to the agent and avoid installing or removing any faulty appliances.
4. Fire Safety
Landlords also have responsibilities with respect to fire safety. While these may vary depending on state/territory legislation, generally, they are as follows.
- Furnishing should be fire resistant and smoke alarms installed in accordance with regulations as outlined above.
- For body corporates or apartments with multiple occupancies, landlords may need to provide extra fire safety measures. For example, these may include fire blankets, extinguishers, fire emergency exits, fire doors, and smoke detectors in communal areas.
5. Gas Safety
While these may differ from state to state or territory, landlords are also required to maintain an adequate level of gas safety. This can include keeping gas fittings, flues, and chimneys well maintained. In Victoria, gas appliances must be serviced at least every two years.
Maintenance and installations should be carried out by licensed gas-fitters. Any repairs should be performed promptly and appliances made safe to use before re-letting the property.
6. Blinds and cords
It’s recommended that blind and curtain cords are included as part of your property check. Landlords must ensure that any window coverings with cords or similar hazards are in line with existing requirements. For example, in NSW all blind cords can’t be within reach of children due to the risk of strangulation. These rules apply whether the tenants have children or not.
7. Pool barriers
Landlords must ensure that a pool or spa is appropriately fenced according to local government building laws and residential tenancy laws. There are different state laws that outline requirements for pool barriers. In WA for example, pools that are deeper than 30cm are required to have safety barriers.
8. Window and balcony safety
Balcony windows must be fitted with window safety devices which can withstand up to 25kg of force as well as be fitted with a child safety lock or mechanism. There is no obligation for landlords to monitor or enforce the use of window safety devices, so it’s up to the tenant to have a physical inspection of the window safety devices as well as the condition of the balcony.
9. Security and locks
The landlord is responsible for the property to have a reasonable level of security in place. What is considered reasonable varies in different situations, however, the landlord has an obligation to ensure the property must meet the minimum security standards specified in the regulations. Tenants can seek consent from the landlord for any locks or security devices that need to be added or changed.
10. Provide a property condition report to all new tenants
Before the start and end of the tenancy, the landlord must prepare a property condition report detailing the safety and standard of every room in the rental property. The report must also include information about the fixed electrical appliances in the home. The report will inform the tenant that you are meeting safety and inspection requirements as well as maintaining the property as it should be.