We thought we would take some time to clarify some possible misconceptions in the industry around a few requirements of smoke alarm compliance, as well as how smoke alarm service providers tend to invoice for their work.
First rule of thumb, the 12 month rule…
The alarms have to be checked at a minimum of every 12 months.
We often hear from some of our property owners and Property Managers that as long as the smoke alarms are checked at least once a year, then that is ok. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
This takes us to rule number 2!… The 30 day rule…
The smoke alarms in all rental properties are required to be checked for compliance at a minimum of once every 12 months. However, it also goes on to state that they also need to be checked for compliance within 30 days prior to a lease renewal, or the start of a new tenancy. Depending on the term of the lease, or any break-lease situations, this may mean several smoke alarm checks throughout any 12 month period to keep the property compliant. This is all pointed out in The QFES Act (which is the document that dictates smoke alarm requirements in QLD)
Because of the precedent set at the inception of the smoke alarm servicing industry, the Annual Plan has become the most accepted form of invoicing. I like to think of this as being similar to a RACQ policy; the owner of the property pays the one amount (generally) at the same time each year, which permits them to 12 months worth of service from their service provider with varying degrees of inclusions. In some cases this does result in some confusion around when invoices should be paid. For example, we occasionally hear; “I shouldn’t have to pay this invoice because there wasn’t an inspection done and no Work Order issued”. True, however your provider may have been to that property 2 or 3 times throughout the previous 12 months where the owner was not invoiced due to the “All Inclusive” nature of the Annual Plan. Inspection cycles and Invoicing cycles tend to end up becoming “out of sync” because of this.
So, how can this information best be used to have the most effective relationship with your smoke alarm service provider? From our experience, the best way to ensure that your properties stay ‘smoke alarm compliant’, is to provide as much notice as possible for Work Orders, and to include lease start/renewal dates in the notes on the Work Order. I believe a good smoke alarm service provider should be making sure the Property Manager/property owner is notified as properties are nearing 12 months since their last smoke alarm check. If you have any questions or concerns regarding invoices, please get in touch with your contact person at that company and have that open discussion.
Hope this helps a little and if you have any questions or concerns regarding any of the above info, please feel free to leave a question in the comments or get in touch with us directly.