03 Oct 2022

Smoke Alarms & RCD Requirements At Property Settlement

When purchasing or leasing property within Western Australia, it is essential to be aware of the state requirements that must be fulfilled for a dwelling to be compliant with electrical safety standards and regulations.

In WA it is mandatory to have at least two RCDs (Residual Current Devices) and at least one Smoke Alarm installed and compliant with Australian Standards (AS 3786:2014).

What is a Smoke Alarm and what does it do?

Smoke Alarms (or Smoke Detectors) are powered devices installed in buildings that automatically sense when smoke is present in the vicinity. When activated it will emit an audibly loud and high-pitched frequency to alert us of a potential fire, even when our sense of hearing and smell are at their weakest (i.e. when sleeping).

A properly working smoke alarm is a highly effective means of warning people that a fire has started, and giving them adequate time to evacuate the premises. They can and will save your life if appropriate measures are taken in response.

There are various types of Smoke Alarms available, but the two most common types in Western Australia are ionisation or photoelectric smoke alarms. The difference is in the technology it uses to detect smoke during a fire.

  • – Photoelectric Smoke Alarms are the most recommended type of smoke alarms as it is designed to sense large smoke particles caused by a smouldering fire, this means that fires are detected faster and give you a greater chance of survivability.
  • – Ionisation smoke alarms are more prone to false or nuisance alarms as it detects large amounts of small smoke particles (e.g. when cooking in the kitchen), and are therefore no longer recommended.

What are the regulations regarding smoke alarms in WA before settlement?

The following Western Australian regulations apply to all residential properties that are being sold or rented out. A dwelling with a compliant smoke alarm system;

  • – Must have a smoke alarm that is less than 10 years old.
  • – Must be hard-wired into an electrical main (common battery-operated devices are no longer compliant).
  • – Long-life lithium battery-operated smoke alarms are accepted in circumstances where new electrical wiring cannot be feasibly installed.

What is an RCD and what does it do?

RCDs (perhaps better known as Circuit Breakers) are vitally important pieces of electrical safety technology that instantaneously shuts down all interconnected electrical components within a switchboard main when a fault is detected.

These devices are vital as they can prevent fatal electrocution (when working with exposed live wires) by cutting the power to a circuit during an earth leakage. It also reduces the likelihood of electrical fires which may be caused by faulty wiring or appliances that overheat a switchboard. RCDs must be installed by a qualified electrician, and subject to regular testing and maintenance.

What are the regulations regarding RCDs in WA before settlement?

The following Western Australian regulations apply to all residential properties that are being sold or rented out. A dwelling that adheres to the RCD compliance requirements must have;

  • – Two RCDs (at minimum) installed on the main switchboard at a residential property. This is because it divides the electrical load distribution amongst various household electrical systems (e.g. One RCD may operate for appliances and powerpoints, with another covering for heating systems and lighting)
  • – RCDs must be permanently installed within the switchboard (fusebox), this offers the greatest level of protection against potential fire hazards and injury.

What are your rights as a buyer or tenant regarding Smoke Alarm and RCD regulations?

As a Buyer, you have the right to request an inspection of the property to ascertain whether it meets the legal requirements for RCDs and smoke alarms. Should the property not meet WA regulations, the buyer also has the power to ask the seller to conduct appropriate repairs and/or alterations to fulfil compliance.

Western Australia’s Building Regulations 2012 (the Regulations) sets out the requirements for home-owners to have compliant smoke alarms and RCDs installed:

  • – Before the sale or transfer of ownership.
  • – Where a dwelling is rented under a residential tenancy agreement or made available for such rental.
  • – Where a dwelling is made available for hire.
  • – Note: An exemption may be afforded for smoke alarms and/or RCDs if a prospective buyer announces that they plan to demolish a dwelling within 6 months of its purchase.

What are the penalties for sellers or landlords who don’t adhere to compliance legislation?

It’s in the best interest of both parties to ensure that compliance is achieved, but ultimately the onus of compliance rests in the hands of sellers and landlords. If compliance is not reached, the following penalties (according to WA regulations) may be imposed;

  • – Non-compliant smoke alarm regulations may result in infringement notices of $750 or fines of up to $5,000.
  • – Non-compliant installation of RCDs may attract fines of up to $15,000 for individuals, or up to $100,000 for a body corporate (Electrical Regulations 1947).
  • – Note: Tenancy agreements may require tenants to conduct periodical operational testing of smoke alarms.

Further information regarding compliance can be viewed WA Smoke Alarms Fact Sheet & WA RCD Fact Sheet.

Vicki Philipoff Settlements is Perth’s leading conveyancing and settlement agency and has conducted thousands of settlements for our satisfied clients. Our team is qualified and up-to-date with the latest developments in property conveyancing trends, WA regulations and legislation.

If you’re interested in Vicki Philipoff Settlements conveyancing and settlement services, get in touch with us today or apply for a free quote and settle with ease.