Western Australian state law requires that every dwelling must have the following in place before being sold or rented:
- A minimum of 2 Residual Currency Devices (RCDs) plus
- At least one hard-wired smoke alarm, depending on the layout of the property.
In fact, due to the importance of this mandatory requirement, we have covered this subject in some previous articles. However, we have found that not all homeowners/sellers understand the implications of these laws nor appreciate the severity of penalties for non-compliance when it comes to electrical safety.
This was illustrated in a recent case where a client, Ms. Ramsay, (not her real name) incorrectly assumed that her property’s RCDs were compliant when she put her older style unit up for sale and potentially exposed herself to being hit with thousands of dollars in penalties.
In this instance, our seller had indicated to her agent that all RCDs and Smoke Alarms were correctly installed and in line with current legislation at the time of listing.
Once an O&A was accepted on the property, the seller decided to address some maintenance issues in her unit to comply with the “Good Working Order Clause”.
All was progressing well towards settlement however, it was only when she hired an electrician to fix an unrelated problem with her outdoor lighting that she discovered that there was an issue with the existing RCD installation and to make matters worse, that some previous “out of hours work” she had done by an electrician friend put her at risk of incurring some hefty penalties.
Fortunately she was able to have the issues with the RCDs rectified and correct the “unauthorized electrical work” on her property during the settlement period, well before the final inspection. With all in working order, she was subsequently able to gain an authorized Electrical Safety Certificate in time for settlement.
This case again highlights the ongoing importance for agents to be consistent and thorough when approaching RCD, Smoke Alarm and Electrical Safety compliance and we recommend all sellers are made aware of the following:
- It is their responsibility to ensure that RCDs and Smoke Alarms are compliant and as settlement agents, we request sellers sign a declaration to confirm the correct devices are installed. These should be professionally checked and compliance should not be assumed.
- A minimum of 2 RCDs protecting all power and lighting circuits must be fitted to a residential property before it can be sold and the transfer of title can take place. Penalties of up to $15,000 apply if RCDs are not fitted and the land title is transferred to another party.
- Hard wired smoke alarms must be installed on a dwelling prior to settlement and failure to comply could result in fines of up to $5,000.
- By having compliant RCDs and Smoke Alarms in place well before settlement, sellers also protect occupants from the risk of electrocution.