Where the is smoke there is fire
When selling property it is important to understand a Seller’s disclosure obligations with regard to safety switches and smoke alarms.
Does a Seller need to accurately disclose the existence of smoke alarms and safety switches?
The answer is “Yes – definitely”.
Section 82 of the Electrical Safety Regulation 2013 (Qld) specifically provides that:
- the Seller of a property must disclose to the Buyer whether or not there is a safety switch installed in the property.
In Queensland, there must be an electrical safety switch installed in all residential properties for the protection of homeowners.
If a safety switch is not installed (and the Seller has disclosed this), then it becomes the Buyer’s responsibility to install after settlement. The Buyer has 3 months to do so to avoid a penalty of up to $1,955.
Smoke alarms, on the other hand, are governed by section 104RB of the Fire and Emergency Services Act (Qld), which provides that:
- the Seller of a property must disclose to the Buyer whether there are compliant smoke alarms installed in the property.
What happens if a Seller discloses that there are no compliant smoke alarms installed?
If are property is sold with no smoke alarms installed, the Seller commits an offence, even if this has been disclosed.
A Seller’s smoke alarm obligations (unlike obligations concerning safety switches) do not pass to the Buyer after settlement. That is, a Seller can still be fined for committing an offence after the property has been sold.
Although there are fines and offences involved, the Standard REIQ Contract does not give the Buyer the express right to terminate the Contract due to the non-existence of a safety switch or smoke alarm.
- Make sure the smoke alarms and safety switches are compliant, preferably before the Contract is signed (for safety reasons alone!)
- Always disclose whether there is a compliant smoke alarm before the Buyer enters into the Contract
- Always disclose whether there is an approved safety switch before the Buyer enters into the Contract