A huge number of property owners are in breach of the law requiring working smoke alarms in residential homes, according to new data, with one expert warning investors their insurance policies could be invalid as a result.
Research from Smoke Alarms Australia suggests that almost two out of every three Australian homes has at least one defective smoke alarm, and nearly one in two households has no working smoke alarm at all. The company said too many property owners are "flouting the law".
The number of properties with inoperable or absent alarms is also increasing year on year, the company said. Its data reveals that properties with at least one non-working smoke alarm (due to damage, fault or expiry), and those lacking an alarm, has increased from 39 per cent in 2010, to 59.9 per cent in 2014.
The number of properties with no working smoke alarms at all has also climbed from 28.3 per cent in 2010, to 44.5 per cent in 2014.
Troy Thompson, general manager of Smoke Alarms Australia, said the statistics were worrying and indicate many property owners are most likely unaware of the smoke alarm legislation in their state.
“State governments can issue property owners with on-the-spot fines for non-compliance – from $500 in Queensland up to $5,000 in Western Australia. In light of this data, and the 11,000 household fires that occurred in Australian homes last year, it’s clear that householders are not aware that smoke alarms need to be checked at least yearly to ensure they are working,” he said.
Mr Thompson also issued a warning to landlords.
“Landlords and tenants are likely to be unaware that, under some insurance policies, their home and contents cover may be invalid without a working smoke alarm.”
Mr Thompson reminded home owners and investors that we are heading into “another season of fire risk” and urged people to get their smoke alarms checked and replaced well before Christmas.