Landlords Risk Price Gouging, Unpaid Rent and Fines.
More than 560,000 rental properties in Queensland are affected by new smoke alarm laws, which could see landlords paying up to $2000 for new smoke alarms – or risk being unable to tenant their dwellings.
“The fine for non-compliance is $667. But more importantly, if the property has not been upgraded to meet the new legislation by 1 January 2022, the rental property cannot be leased and a lease renewal can’t happen, nor can the property be sold. So if the upgrade hasn’t happened prior to a new lease or lease renewal, the landlord simply is not allowed to collect rent without breaking the law.”
Every rental property in Queensland must meet the new smoke alarm rules by 31st December 2021; to meet this deadline, around 700 homes per day must be made compliant between now and then, warned Rod Prendergast, general manager of Smoke Alarm Upgrades.
“We are getting closer to the date where rental properties need to have their smoke alarms upgraded and it is becoming a real time problem now,” he said.
Under the legislation, which was introduced 1 January 2017, all Queensland dwellings will be required to have interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms in all bedrooms, in hallways that connect bedrooms with the rest of the dwelling, and on every level.
To comply with legislation, interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms are required:
From 1 January 2017: in all new dwellings and substantially renovated dwellings (this applies to building applications submitted from 1 January 2017).
From 1 January 2022: in all domestic dwellings leased and sold.
From 1 January 2027: in all other domestic dwellings.
The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) have stated that they will be enforcing the new regulations, but they haven’t indicated how as yet.
“I believe most of the enforcement will come from the property managers who have a duty of care to ensure the properties they manage meet all required legislation, and it will be the property managers who will be forcing tardy landlords to comply,” Prendergast said.
“I am not aware of any insurance companies making the statement as yet that their insurance policy would be void if there was a fire. But based on previous experience, I expect this to be the case, and there are usually words in the insurance policy PDS that say exactly this. I certainly wouldn’t want to be a landlord or property manager that has a fire with a non-compliant property – it’s like playing Russian Roulette.”
Landlords in Queensland who haven’t yet heard from their property manager about complying with the legislation should make enquiries sooner rather than later, Prendergast added.
“The poor landlord is usually sent one quote from their property manager for the upgrading required… but property managers have a responsibility to present their owners with the best and most competitive options,” he said.
“Agencies who only present one quote run the risk that their landlords may think they are biased or receiving a commission, and if the landlord obtains a more competitive quote this will not reflect well on their agency – tarnishing their reputation.”
Article By Sarah Megginson – Your Investment Property