Smoke alarms and fire safety

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All Victorian homes must have smoke alarms. Rental providers must make sure that smoke alarms are properly installed and working. Renters should make sure that they continue to operate and tell their rental provider if they stop working.

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Rental providers must fit smoke alarms

Smoke alarms are compulsory and must be installed in all Victorian residential properties including houses, units, flats and townhouses. Rental providers must ensure their rental property is appropriately fitted with smoke alarms.

All buildings constructed after 1 August 1997 must have hard-wired smoke alarms with a battery back-up. Buildings built before that date can have a battery-powered smoke alarm.

Smoke alarms must meet the Australian Standard AS 3786.

Smoke alarms in rooming houses

Rooming houses must have hard-wired smoke alarms. Read more about how rooming house operators must meet their gas and electrical safety obligations.

Smoke alarm requirements after 29 March 2021

The Residential Tenancies Regulations 2021 establish requirements for safety related activities in respect of smoke alarms in residential rental properties.

For rental agreements entered into after 29 March 2021, renter and rental provider responsibilities for smoke alarm safety are included as terms of the Form 1 residential rental agreement of no more than 5 years and the Form 2 residential rental agreement of more than 5 years.

Rental providers and smoke alarms

Rental providers must ensure that smoke alarms:

  • are correctly installed and in working order
  • are tested according to the manufacturer’s instructions at least once every 12 months
  • have their batteries replaced as required
  • are repaired or replaced as an urgent repair.

On or before the start of a rental agreement, a rental provider must give a renter written information about:

  • how each smoke alarm in the rented premises operates
  • how to test each smoke alarm in the rented premises
  • the renter's obligations to not tamper with any smoke alarms and to report if a smoke alarm in the rented premises is not in working order.

Renters and smoke alarms

Renters and rooming house residents must notify the rental provider or rooming house operator if a smoke alarm is faulty or not working.

Renters and rooming house residents must not deactivate or remove a smoke alarm or interfere with its operation in any way. If a renter, resident or their visitor does this, it is a breach of duty and a rental provider or rooming house operator may give the renter or resident a Notice of breach of duty.

When renters move out of a property, they should leave the batteries in the smoke alarm.

Broken smoke alarms are urgent repairs 

If notified that a smoke alarm is not working, rental providers and rooming house operators must immediately arrange for it to be repaired or replaced as an urgent repair.

If a rental provider or rooming house operator cannot be contacted or if they do not immediately fix the smoke alarm, the renter or resident can authorise and pay for an urgent repair of up to $2,500. The rental provider must pay them back within 7 days.

A hard-wired smoke alarm must be installed by a qualified electrician, but anyone can change a smoke alarm battery.

Water tanks in bushfire prone areas

Requirements for water tanks apply to:

  • rental agreements entered into after 29 March 2021
  • fixed term agreements of more than five years that become periodic tenancies after 29 March 2021.

If a rental property is in bushfire prone area and a water tank is required for firefighting, the rental provider must ensure the tank and any connected infrastructure is:

  • maintained in good repair
  • clean and full at the start of the tenancy. 

Resources for fire safety at home

For information about fire safety at home, visit Fire Rescue Victoria and read about:

You can also read Energy Safe Victoria’s advice on electrical safety in the home or Smoke alarms - Victorian Building Authority website

Sections of the Act

If you want to know what the law says about smoke alarms and fire safety, you can read these sections of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997:

  • Section 3 – Definition of an urgent repair
  • Section 72 – Urgent repairs.