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NEW RESIDENTIAL TENANCY REGULATIONS - SMOKE ALARMS AND INSULATION REQUIREMENTS

June 30th 2016

 

 

The Residential Tenancies Regulations have been amended, effective from 1 July 2016, in respect of smoke alarms and insulation for residential tenancies in New Zealand. The objective of these changes is to make NZ homes ‘warmer, drier and safer.’

 

What does it mean for landlords?

From 1 July 2016:

  • All rental properties must have smoke alarms installed.
  • All new tenancy agreements must include a statement in respect of the location and grade of insulation in the property.
  • Any repair or new installation of insulation in a rental property must meet the required standard.
  • All social houses where the tenant pays an income related rent, must have underfloor and ceiling insulation, where it can be practically installed.

 

What are the rental property smoke alarm standards?

Rental properties must meet the following criteria:

  • A minimum of one working alarm in hallways or similar, within 3 meters of each bedroom door.
  • In a self-contained sleep-out, caravan or similar, a minimum of one working smoke alarm will be required.
  • In a multi-level unit, there must be a working smoke alarm on each level.

 

Does my apartment meet the requirements?

Insulation

In most cases the existing insulation in the properties we manage will meet or exceed the requirements of the legislation. Soundproofing requirements in apartment buildings generally imply that there are tilt slab concrete walls with batts and soundproofing gib lining. Similarly, floors and ceilings will be of concrete construction in multi level buildings. If an apartment is located on the top floor, it may have a lighter structure for the roof, which we would expect in most cases will include adequate insulation. 

If in doubt, please check with your building manager or body corporate secretary that the property meets the new standards - if not (unless the tenancy is for social housing) then there is a period of 90 days from the commencement of any new tenancy to comply prior to 1 July 2019.

 

Smoke Alarms

The requirement to comply is immediate.

A number of the apartments we manage do not have smoke alarms installed, although they are fitted with hard wired heat sensors and sprinklers. In these situations, a new standalone smoke alarm will need to be fitted. The new standard requires long-life, photoelectric alarms, which are more cost effective over time, as batteries do not require replacement every 6-12 months.

 

Existing smoke alarms that are not ‘long-life’ do not need to be replaced immediately, but when the time comes for replacement, they should be replaced with long-life photoelectric alarms that have a higher than 85 decibel alarm sound. All smoke alarms have an expiry date and this should be checked to remain compliant.

 

How can I protect my property and my tenants while ensuring we are compliant with the new legislation?

Install standalone long life photoelectric smoke alarms in your rental property immediately and instruct your property manager to test between tenancies and during inspections. Tenants should be given instructions to keep the smoke alarms clean and to advise you (or your Property Manager) of any faults or defects as they become aware of them.

Smoke Alarm Testing Services - specialising in smoke alarm compliance, has operated in New Zealand for many years. They provide a nationwide service which installs, provides annual checks, responds to callouts as required and issues a certificate of compliance, providing documented evidence that you as a landlord have done everything needed to meet the requirements of the legislation.

 

Please refer to their website www.sats.co.nz for further information.