NSW legislation on smoke alarms stipulates that at least one working smoke alarm should be installed on every level in all buildings in NSW where occupants sleep. This is according to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 Clause 146A, and Division 7A of Part 9 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000.

Smoke alarms are fire protection devices that can detect smoke before a fire even occurs. So even if the occupant is sleeping or unaware of the fire breaking out, the triggered smoke alarms will alert them to the danger and give them critical seconds to take actions that would save life and property. Smoke alarms may include audio and visual alarms that would get the attention of the people staying inside that property.

All smoke alarms in Australia, not just Sydney, must comply with the requirements of Australian Standard AS 3786. These provisions were implemented on 1 May 2006 until the present. Anyone who does not comply with the regulations is guilty of an offence and will suffer a maximum penalty of $550.

Smoke Alarms for Homes

According to NSW legislation, smoke alarms should be installed on every level of residential properties. When we say residential properties, they include occupied homes, rental apartments, relocatable homes, caravans, camper-vans, and any other residential property where people reside and sleep.

Smoke alarms should be installed in areas or hallways near the bedrooms. But if your bedroom is on a separate part of the house, then they should be installed on both locations. Even if there are no bedroom on a certain level, you still need to install a smoke alarm there.

Here are the types of residential properties that are required to have smoke alarms:

  • detached houses, terrace houses, town houses, and villa units (Class 1a buildings)
  • apartments, home units, flats (Class 2 buildings)
  • caretakers flats, single residences above shops (Class 4 parts of buildings) as well as
  • relocatable homes, e.g. manufactured homes and moveable dwelling

Shared accommodations also need to be equipped with smoke alarms, including:

  • small boarding houses, guest houses, hostels; backpackers accommodation; bed and breakfast accommodation (Class 1b buildings),
  • large boarding houses, guest houses, hostels, backpacker accommodation; residential parts of hotels, motels, schools, health care buildings, detention centres; certain residential accommodation for the aged, children and people with disabilities (Class 3 buildings)
  • in addition hospitals and nursing homes (Class 9a health care buildings)

Smoke Alarms for Rental Properties

If you’re renting an apartment, house, or condo unit, your landlord has the responsibility of ensuring that your unit has met the minimum smoke alarm requirements. Landlords are responsible for installing smoke alarms in rented properties. However, they need to give at least two days notice and ask for permission from the tenant before they are allowed in the rented property to install the smoke alarms.

But once the smoke alarms have been installed, it is up to the tenant to replace the battery if needed. For hard-wired smoke alarms, backup batteries should be replaced by the landlord.

How to Properly Maintain Smoke Alarms

  • Test units monthly.
  • Install new batteries immediately when the low-battery warning alarm sounds or at least once a year.
  • Clean smoke alarms regularly by vacuuming them with a brush attachment.
  • Replace smoke alarms every 10 years to achieve optimum performance.