Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms save lives. Reports have found that the risk of death in a house fire is reduced by more than half if properly maintained smoke alarms are installed.

There are obligations on both owners and tenants to ensure smoke alarms are functioning.

Obligations of the Owner

  1. Property owners must install and maintain smoke alarms in rental properties, in line with Queensland smoke alarm legislation.
  2. To test and clean smoke alarms and replace any flat or nearly flat batteries within 30 days before the start or renewal of a tenancy

Obligations of the Tenant

  1. To clean and test the smoke alarm/s at least once every 12 months where the tenant has either a fixed Term Tenancy of 12 months or longer or a periodic tenancy.
  2. To replace the smoke alarm batteries when they are spent or nearly spent during the tenancy.
  3. To advise the owner or agent if they become aware that the smoke alarm has failed or is about to fail other than because of a battery being spent.
  4. To not remove a smoke alarm or the battery (other than to replace it), or do anything to reduce the effectiveness of the alarm e.g. paint it.

The tenant can arrange for the work to be carried out by a qualified contractor at the tenant’s cost


Smoke Alarm Problem Solving For Tenants

As battery replacement is the most common cause of smoke alarm faults we recommend tenants step through the following guide to problem solve the issue.

A smoke alarm will chirp at a regular interval, about once every minute, when the battery is weak and needs to be replaced.

1. Replace the battery

Always replace with a fresh 9 Volt battery.

2. Clean the alarm

Remove the alarm from the wall or ceiling and hold the unit on its side. There is a gap between the front cover and the back plate. Take a vacuum cleaner with a crevice tool and clean all around the gap area. Pay most attention to the sensor, which you will see in the gap area. The sensor looks like a small tin can with slots in it for ionisation alarms and a black cylinder for photoelectric alarms. This needs to be thoroughly cleaned since dust or insects may be caught in the sensor.

3. Reset the alarm. 

Modern alarms often have a processor that retains error advices. These are usually reset when the battery is replaced but in some cases a manual reset is required.

3.1 To reset a mains unit with battery backup

Turn off the power to the smoke alarm at the circuit. Remove the smoke alarm from the bracket and disconnect. Remove the battery. Press and hold the test button for at least 15 seconds. The unit may chirp whilst this is taking place and then go silent. Reinstall the battery, reconnect and turn the power back on.

3.2 To reset a battery only unit

Remove the battery. Press and hold the test button for at least 15 seconds. Reinstall the battery.

Problem not solved?

If none of the above steps have resolved the issue it is likely the smoke alarm will need replacing. Tenants can log a request for smoke alarm assistance via our Repairs & Maintenance page.