TenantsTips / Australia / Advice for Tenants on Smoke Alarms

Advice for Tenants on Smoke Alarms

It is the responsibility of the landlord to install and maintain smoke alarms

Who is responsible for smoke alarms?

It is the responsibility of the landlord to install and maintain smoke alarms. As of May 2006 properly installed smoke alarms is a term of every residential tenancy agreement. This responsibility is also outlined in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000.

What type of smoke alarm should be installed in rental properties?

The type of smoke alarm you have installed depends largely on the sort of building you live in and the power supply location. The type of building you rent can also affect the location of the smoke alarm. However, from May 2006 all smoke alarms fitted in residential properties must comply with the Australian Standard AS 3786.

Smoke alarms in private rental properties:

Private rental properties include any of the following:

  • Town houses
  • Villas
  • Apartments
  • Units
  • Flats
  • Detached houses
  • Terraced Houses

If you live in a privately rented building the landlord has two options for the installation of smoke alarms. The landlord can choose to use battery powered alarms or hard-wire alarms to the mains electricity supply.

Alarms should be fitted on each level or storey of the building and on levels where there are bedrooms alarms should be fitted in any corridors or leading walkways leading to a bedroom. On these storeys it may be necessary to install more than one alarm depending on the number of bedrooms in the building.

On storeys where there are no bedrooms the smoke alarm should be fitted in line with the route for evacuation.

Smoke alarms in boarding houses:

In boarding houses landlords also have two options for installing smoke alarms. Smoke alarms should be hard-wired to the mains electricity supply or as an alternative they may be powered by a 10 year long life non-removable battery.

Landlords are responsible for installing smoke alarms on each storey of the building and smoke alarms should be fitted in every bedroom and each adjoining corridor.

For boarding houses that are classified large there may be additional standards and requirements in relation to smoke alarms and fire safety. It is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that they have complied with any additional requirements. However, if you want to check that these have been met you can find the necessary information at the department of planning website (New South Wales).

Modified or specialist smoke alarms:

There are occasions where it is necessary for a landlord to provide tenants with a modified or specialist smoke alarm. If you have a hearing impairment you can ask your landlord to fit a smoke alarm that is compatible with devices such as vibrating pillow pads and flashing lights.

Maintenance of smoke alarms:

Replacing batteries:

During a tenancy it is the tenant’s responsibility to replace batteries in any smoke alarms. This term is outlined in all residential tenancy agreements. Tenants must also grant access to the landlord for the purpose of installing, repairing or maintaining smoke alarms. The landlord should give tenants notice of two days.

Old alarms:

Smoke alarms fitted prior to the 1st May 2006 are not required to comply with Australian Standard AS 3786. However, if an old alarm fails or is removed, the landlord is responsible for replacing it with an alarm that complies with the standard.


The operation of a smoke alarm should not be interfered with by the landlord or the tenant. This is a term outlined in every residential tenancy agreement.

If a smoke alarm malfunctions do not attempt to remove or disable it yourself. Notify your landlord of the problem.

Urgent repairs:

The replacement or repair of a smoke alarm can be considered urgent. If you notice any fault with your smoke alarms notify your landlord as quickly as possible.


If a dispute arises regarding smoke alarms you can apply to the Consumer, Trader, and Tenancy Tribunal for any necessary orders including orders that the landlord should:

  • Install smoke alarms
  • Maintain and repair smoke alarms
  • Stop interfering with the operation of a smoke alarm

The same applies to the landlord who may apply to the CTTT should a tenant fail to meet the terms of the residential tenancy agreement in relation to smoke alarms.

Further Information:

You can contact NSW Fire Brigades at www.fire.nsw.gov.au


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