Buyers’ Rights and Sellers’ Obligations Regarding RCDs and Smoke Alarms in WA Properties

August 3, 2022

An image of a Smoke Alarm

Buyers’ Rights and Sellers’ Obligations Regarding RCDs and Smoke Alarms in WA Properties

When it comes to buying or renting a property in Western Australia, it’s important to be aware of the state law requirements for RCDs and smoke alarms.

All dwellings in WA must have a minimum of two RCDs installed before a property can be sold or rented. Smoke alarms must also be fitted in all dwellings, and must comply with AS 3786:2014.

What are RCDs?

RCDs are important safety devices that help protect people from electric shock. RCDs (Residual Current Devices), prevent electrocution by cutting the power to a circuit in the event of earth leakage. This can also provide some protection against electrical fires caused by faulty wiring or appliances. RCDs allow a property’s electrical circuits to be divided evenly, reducing the load. This ensures some light and power remain operational if one RCD is triggered by an electrical fault such as a hair-dryer or other small appliance malfunctioning.

There are a few different types of RCDs available on the market. The most common type is the single-pole RCD, which is designed to protect an individual circuit. However, for larger properties or those with multiple circuits, a multi-pole RCD should be used. This type of device protects several circuits at once.

RCDs are not expensive to install, but must be performed by a qualified electrician. It is important to make sure that the device is sized correctly for the property’s needs. For the best protection, it is also recommended that regular testing and maintenance of RCDs be carried out.

An image of RCDs

What are the Regulations regarding RCDs in Western Australia?

All properties built after 2000 should already have two installed, but it is important for a seller to check prior to settlement that this is the case. Penalties of up to $15,000 ($100,000 for corporations) apply if regulations are not adhered to. RCDs must be installed in accordance with the Electricity Regulations 1947 WA, and must be fitted to protect all power and lighting circuits.

If you’re not sure whether your property has RCDs installed, or if they are in good working order, contact an electrician for advice.

Did you know that there’s an exception to the rule requiring RCDs for property sales?

If you’re buying a home that will be demolished within six months of property settlement, the seller is not required to install RCDs prior. However, if the property is not demolished within that time, the buyer must install the required RCDs.

What about rental properties?

As of August 2011, all landlords in Western Australia must ensure their rental properties have at least two RCDs installed to help protect their tenants from electric shock. If you are a tenant, be sure to ask your landlord if the property has been properly equipped with RCDs.

What’s the key purpose of a smoke alarm?

What many people don’t know is that we lose our sense of smell when we’re asleep. This is why it’s so important to have a working smoke detector – it replaces our sense of smell and provides us with early warning in the event of a fire. Smoke detectors are one of the most important pieces of safety equipment in your home. They can save your life and the lives of your loved ones.

In a nutshell, smoke alarms provide an early warning of a fire, giving occupants time to escape safely.

Are there different types of smoke detectors?

Yes! There are two types of smoke detectors: ionisation and photoelectric. Ionisation smoke detectors are more sensitive to the small particles produced by flaming fires, which spread quickly and consume combustible materials rapidly. Photoelectric smoke detectors are usually much faster at detecting smoke from smouldering synthetic material, meaning residents are alerted before danger has turned into disaster.

All Australian state fire authorities now recommend photoelectric smoke alarms, as ionisation smoke detectors are prone to false alarms.

False alarms can be a real nuisance, as they can lead to occupants covering the units to disable them. This is extremely dangerous, as it leaves the home unprotected in the event of a real fire.

What are the Regulations regarding Smoke Alarms in Western Australia?

In Western Australia, new or existing dwellings must be fitted with smoke alarms that comply with AS 3786:2014 (Incorporating Amendment No. 1) – Smoke alarms using scattered light, transmitted light or ionisation. This means that smoke alarms using any of these three technologies must be installed in homes across the state.

This amendment to the standard was made in order to improve safety for residents. The use of scattered light, transmitted light or ionisation smoke alarms helps to ensure that everyone in a building can be alerted quickly in the event of a fire.

Smoke alarms that are no longer working or are more than 10 years old must be replaced with compliant alarms. This is an important safety measure, as non-compliant smoke alarms may not function properly in the event of a fire.

Mains powered smoke alarms are compulsory in WA, pursuant to Western Australian Building Regulations, and must be installed by owners prior to transfer of ownership (regulation 56), prior to being rented or made available for rent (regulation 58), or when being made available for hire (regulation 59). Smoke alarms must comply with AS 3786:2014 and be in working order. They must also be less than ten years old.

As an owner who rents their dwelling in Western Australia under a residential tenancy agreement, it is your responsibility to have compliant mains-powered smoke alarms fitted prior to making the dwelling available for rent or hire.

In Western Australia, it is a requirement that all residential properties have a smoke alarm installed. Failing to comply with this regulation can lead to an infringement notice of $750, with the seller or landlord facing a fine of up to $5,000.

An image of Smoke Alarm Installation

Buyers’ Rights


Buyers have the right to inspect the property to ensure that it meets the state law requirements for RCDs and smoke alarms. If the property does not meet these requirements, the buyer has the right to ask the seller to make the necessary repairs or adjustments.

Under Western Australian regulations, it’s the responsibility of the seller to install RCDs and smoke alarms, however, there is no requirement for the seller to provide evidence that the installations are compliant.

As property settlement agents, we recommend buyers include in their offer, a clause requiring the seller to provide evidence that RCDs and smoke alarms are installed and comply with regulations. This will help ensure that your new home is safe and compliant with regulations.

However, if you discover after settlement that RCDs are not installed correctly, contact the seller and ask them to comply with the law, for your family’s safety and peace of mind.

If the seller fails to fit the RCDs within a reasonable time, ask Building and Energy to investigate the matter for you. In order to request an investigation from Building and Energy, you will need to provide them with a copy of the letter requesting the previous owner to fit the RCDs, a copy of the title for the property (showing the date of transfer of the title), and a photograph of the main switchboard demonstrating where the RCDs should be located.

Building and Energy will arrange for the RCDs to be fitted and inspected. The buyer will have to pay for the installation, but may seek reimbursement from the seller through civil court action.

Smoke Alarms

Sellers must provide evidence that smoke alarms have been installed and are in compliance with regulations. As property settlement agents, we recommend that this should be stipulated in the contract to avoid any disputes or confusion.

You have a few options if you’ve recently purchased a property that doesn’t have smoke alarms fitted. You can contact the seller and ask them to arrange installation, or you can hire an electrician to install the smoke alarms, and recover reasonable costs from the previous owner in court if the transfer of ownership occurred within the last 12 months. This is a civil matter, so it’s important to consult with an attorney before taking any action.

You must install a smoke alarm within 12 months of taking ownership of the property or face a $5,000 fine from your local council. The same action can be taken against the previous owner, but as the new owner, it is your responsibility to ensure the safety of all occupants by complying with fire and smoke alarm regulations.


  • RCDs protect against electric shock
  • At least two RCDs must be installed
  • One hard-wired smoke alarm is required
  • Smoke alarms must comply with AS 3786:2014 (Incorporating Amendment No. 1)
  • Smoke alarm regulations must be complied with to avoid infringement notices of $750 or fines of up to $5,000
  • RCDs must be installed in accordance with Western Australian legislation to avoid fines of up to $15,000

Do you have any questions?

If so, please reach out to the expert conveyancing team at Mosaic Settlements. We are here to assist you with your property conveyancing questions, including buyers’ rights and sellers’ obligations when it comes to RCDs and Smoke Alarms in WA properties.