New data has revealed one third of PM properties nationally are non-compliant when it comes to smoke alarms, potentially leaving landlords and PMs susceptible to litigation.
Recent figures released by Smoke Alarms Australia show that 48 per cent of properties managed by real estate agencies nationally require at least one of their smoke alarms to be replaced, and 35 per cent have no working smoke alarms installed.
It also revealed the proportion of non-compliant agent-managed properties had increased since 2010.
Domain Property Advocates director Melanie Dennis said smoke alarm compliance is of “huge importance” to her business.
“We do not want our landlords or us as a company to potentially be held liable should any fire occur in our properties under management,” she told Residential Property Manager.
“We utilise the service of Detector Inspector, who routinely inspects all of our rental properties, ensuring the smoke detectors are working and replace them on the spot if they are not.”
Ms Dennis said her landlords have a choice as to whether to use the service, but a majority take it up.
“For those that do not we send them an annual reminder that their smoke detectors need to be serviced,” she said.
“To safeguard us as an agency we keep a running request system so it is ensured that each property is checked every year, with the owners being updated.”
EBM RentCover executive general manager Sharon Fox-Slater told Residential Property Manager out of the 120,000 properties it insures nationwide, approximately 70-80 experience fire damage in any given year.
“We are frequently asked about the implications for cover if there is no fire detector in place or if it fails to function,” she said.
“From our point of view, landlords are covered as long as they have complied with all relevant legislative requirements – which vary by state – and their general duty of care to tenants.”
Ms Fox-Slater said to date they have not had any claims relating to a lack of smoke alarms, or alarms that don’t work properly.
“However, theoretically, if a landlord has been advised about inadequate alarms and chosen to ignore the advice, their liability coverage could potentially be denied,” she said.
“We urge property managers and landlords to carry appropriate insurance and to be proactive in minimising risks to tenants.”