NEW: Simon Lloyd-070510

Smoke alarms are about to become law in Queensland rental properties, but don’t expect your average landlord to have been told.

Not alarmed, not even alert

In the course of an ordinary week, I talk to numerous landlords ranging from investors with more than 20 rental properties in their portfolio to novice property moguls coming to terms with the endless joy of dealing with tenants, with or without a property manager.

Recently I’ve been astonished and not a little concerned at just how many property investors are still unaware of Queensland State legislation coming into force on July 1 – that’s less than eight weeks, folks – making the installation of smoke alarms compulsory in all residential rental properties. (Now if you’re reading this in a southern state, please try to be charitable; up here in Queensland we’re only four or five years behind the rest of Australia in introducing such a law, so we’re not all that backward are we?)

Of course I try to stay as polite as possible with landlords who don’t already have smoke alarms – it’s difficult, though, because if any rental property owners who don’t have them, and who haven’t checked their insurance policy’s ultra-fine print with a microscope, could find themselves with a burnt-out shell of a unit, a family of deceased tenants, and without any insurance cover whatsoever. If that’s not just plain dumb, I don’t know what is.

Nevertheless, the fact that there is still such widespread ignorance of the new laws is an indictment on the State Government’s Residential Tenancy Authority, which has relied on the real estate industry’s own body, the Real Estate Institute of Queensland, to spread the word, but then only to member agencies.

It’s also a disgrace that obviously there are property management companies, who, despite the handsome fees they happily charge for looking after investors’ property interests, have failed to formally notify their clients about the legislation, much less the deadline and the sort of expense likely to be incurred.

So the moral is simple: whether you fancy yourself as the Donald Trump of Queensland property or you’re really just a slumlord in a shiny suit, if your property manager won’t get up on a ladder and install smoke alarms (the law states the minimum is one battery-operated alarm for each storey of a property), and you can’t do it yourself, you’d better find someone who can – and fast!


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