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Jan 5, 2018


In WA, the law requires that there must be at least two RCD’s and one or more hard-wired smoke alarms installed in every property when it either changes owner or changes tenants.


RCD stands for Residual Current Device which is installed in the electrical wiring of houses and monitors the flow of electricity from the main switchboard, preventing electrocution by cutting off the supply of electricity if an imbalance in the current is detected.


These have been required in all new houses built from the year 2000, but are now required to be retrospectively installed at change of owner or tenant.


Hard-wired smoke alarms (HWSA’s) are smoke alarms that are permanently connected to the mains power and must be interconnected with each other, in working order and less than 10 years old at change of owner or tenant.


There are no ifs or buts about these, the law says they must be there. The only exceptions are if the power is disconnected and the meter removed in the case of RCD’s and there are certain rare circumstances where battery powered smoke alarms can be used. Even if the house is derelict, they are still required.


Further there are very onerous fines for non-compliance. In the case of RCD’s it is up to $15,000 or $100,000 for corporate entities and for HWSA’s it is $5,000.


If you are selling a property, it is your responsibility under the law to make the property compliant. This usually costs around $500 or $600 unless other work is also required to make the wiring safe. Generally, sellers should supply either an Electrical Safety Certificate from the electrician that installed the devices or a certificate from an electrician certifying that the house is compliant.


Most contracts require compliance but if they don’t, buyers have no recourse against sellers under the contract and the liability to make the property compliant switches to the buyer at settlement. Of course, buyers also have the blunt instrument of threatening to report the non-compliance to the relevant authority, thus rendering the seller liable for the massive fines outlines above.

This article first appeared in similar form in The Kalgoorlie Miner on 9 December 2017.

Neither Goldfields Settlements nor Paul Browning are lawyers, so none of the above should be construed as legal advice. Readers are encouraged to seek their own independent legal advice on these and any other matter involving property dealings, preferably before entering into them.


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