What property owners and property managers need to know about smoke alarms

As a property owner, you should know that a correctly installed smoke alarm in your rental property is the best way to protect your investment and your tenants in the event of a fire.

From 1 July 2016, new proposed regulations will make landlords responsible for ensuring operational smoke alarms and detectors are installed in their rental properties, and tenants will be responsible for replacing batteries or notifying landlords of defects.

According to the New Zealand Fire Service, every year there are more than 3,500 house fires. Furthermore, in 80% of the fatal fires they attend, smoke alarms are either not installed or not working.

You should also be aware that The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will have the power to investigate and prosecute any landlords found breaking tenancy laws as part of these aforementioned reforms. Such prosecution will be taken very seriously when there is a risk to the health and safety of tenants.

Compliance with this new legislation will be required from July 1, 2016 onwards:

a) There must be at a minimum one working smoke detector in each bedroom in the hall or similar, within at least three metres of the bedroom door. In a caravan, self-contained sleep out, or a similar vehicle, there must be at least one working unit.

b) It is the landlord’s responsibility to make sure the alarm is operational when each new tenancy begins, but it is the tenant’s responsibility to replace batteries when needed during their tenancy. They must also report any defective alarms in their rental property to their landlord.

c) Long life (10 year) photoelectric alarms must be installed when there is no existing alarms.

d) If there are existing alarms, these must be replaced by long life photoelectric alarms when the existing alarm expires. (This date is usually found on the back of the alarm.) Hardwired alarms are also acceptable.

Installing smoke detectors protects lives and protects your assets – it is one of the first lines of defence when it comes to fire safety. It is important for property owners to be aware of all the new regulations to avoid any fines or tenancy disputes as well as keeping your investment and tenants safe and sound.

The new regulations are already saving lives and properties. In June, a Whanganui property manager installed smoke alarms in the properties she was managing as prompted by the new regulations. One day later, one of the smoke alarms prevented damage to the property and the lives of her tenants.

The property managers at Metro NZ Property management are experienced with dealing with all aspects of maintaining owner’s valuable investments. We can ensure you are protecting your rental property against all potential risks and keep you up to date regarding new regulations surrounding residential rental properties. We maintain regular checks of our client’s properties to ensure they are in line with any regulations and everything is up to standard.

If you are looking for someone to manage your property or to rent your property – get in touch!

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