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21 Jun 15

Who's Responsible for Smoke Alarms in Rental Properties?

Unquestionably, smoke alarms rank at or near the top of the list of must-have safety equipment for a home or business. If a fire breaks out, it can spread and spiral out of control very quickly. Every moment of warning time a building’s occupants have is critical. When a fire breaks out in a structure with people inside, seconds can mean the difference between life and death. Smoke alarms can save lives. Are landlords required to install them in their rental properties?

Here’s What Current New Zealand Law Says

There is no specific smoke-alarm provision in the 1986 Residential Tenancies Act, which governs all Auckland apartment rentals and home rentals. However, there is a section that requires landlords to comply with any updated health, safety or business enactments that apply to their dwelling. In other words, all properties must comply with the 2004 Building Act.

At present, this act states that any new or legally altered home must provide a way of detecting and warning occupants if a fire breaks out. This 2004 regulation doesn’t apply to already existing occupancies. However, any upgrade that requires you to file a building consent application with your council typically triggers this fire detector requirement.

What is Building Warrant of Fitness?

This is a popular phrase amongst the rental community. Basically it means a property must be deemed “fit” before they are suitable for tenants to move in. Even if you are not technically required by New Zealand law to install smoke detectors in your properties, these devices really do contribute to making a home or apartment “fit.” According to New Zealand’s Fire Service, in more than 75 per cent of fires they responded to in the past year, smoke detectors were not present or were not working properly. As a property owner, you can do a huge service to your fellow New Zealanders by spending a small amount of money to install smoke alarms in all your properties. Even if you’re not required to, it’s the right thing to do.

A Smoke Alarm With Dead Batteries is Like Having No Smoke Alarm

You can install smoke alarms (and you should), but it’s the tenant's responsibility to check them regularly to make sure they are working. It’s a good idea to remind tenants of this as part of your due diligence as a responsible citizen.

If you own an investment property and have questions about your obligations as a landlord, contact us at City Sales. We’ve been matching residents with their perfect Auckland rental properties for years. Whether you are a first-time home buyer, investor or renter, we’ll help you find Auckland apartment rentals or home rentals that meet your needs.

By Shelly Dunn

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