The Western Australian Government has established laws regarding the installation of Residual Current Devices (RCDs) and smoke alarms in homes before renting or selling the property.
This means that tenants, landlords, home owners and property managers all need to be aware of their legal responsibilities when the property is sold or rented. It also very important for any home owner to have RCDs and smoke alarms installed for safety reasons regardless of any prevailing laws.
Since 2009 it has been compulsory to have at least two RCDs installed before selling or renting out a home.
These RCDs need to be connected to protect all lighting circuits and power points in the property, in order to prevent electrocution when using them. RCDs, which work by cutting off the electricity from the main switchboard when a current imbalance is measured, must be installed on the main switchboard itself by a licensed electrical contractor.
When selling your home, at least two RCDs must be installed by the time the land transfer takes place. If you have not done this, the new owners have the ability to ask you to do so. If you do not comply within a reasonable time period, they can have it done professionally and ask you pay for it.
Likewise when renting out a property, you must comply with this WA law and have at least two RCDs installed. Tenants have the right to ask you formally to comply with this law either directly to you or your property manager. There is the potential of a $15,000 fine for individuals and $100,000 for a body corporate.
During a fire, smoke and not fire is the first danger to occupants in a property. When smoke alarms are installed, they will sound off at the first whiff of smoke, ensuring occupants are made aware of a potential fire and leave the property immediately, avoiding unnecessary injuries and death.
In Western Australia, mains installed smoke alarms have been mandatory since 1 July 2007 for all new residential buildings or extensions. Since 1 October 2009, all existing residential buildings before the sale or the signing of a new tenancy rental agreement also must have smoke alarms installed.
Failing to comply with this law can lead to a $750 infringement notice for any property without a smoke alarm, with residential sellers and landlords facing fines up to $5000.
Every mains connected smoke alarm must be installed by an electrical contractor and existing smoke alarms are not allowed to be older than 10 years of age. If a mains powered smoke alarm cannot be connected because of limited access within the walls, underfloor or roof spaces or there is no mains power available, a battery operated smoke alarm may be used. However it needs to have a minimum battery life of 10 years and the battery must be unable to be removed.
Tenants are responsible for the regular maintenance and testing of the smoke alarms in their residence and must contact the landlord or property manager if they are not working correctly.