A Christchurch landlord has been ordered to pay $4,100 after a non-compliant gas supply and non-working smoke alarms were found at one of her properties.
Lina Liu, the landlord of two boarding houses, was taken to the Tenancy Tribunal by MBIE’s Tenancy Compliance and Investigations Team (TCIT) for failing to meet her responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA).
“Following complaints of a gas leak at one of the boarding houses, the gas supply to the property was found to be non-compliant. When the TCIT team looked into Ms Liu’s operations, it was established that Ms Liu failed to have working smoke alarms at both of her properties and there were no written tenancy agreements with insulation statement in place,” National Manager Tenancy Compliance and Investigations Steve Watson said.
The Tenancy Tribunal Ordered Ms Liu to pay $4000.00 in exemplary damages for these health and safety breaches, and additional $100.00 for failing to provide a written statement that adequately described the levels of insulation – a legal requirement that came into effect from 1 July 2016.
“Insulation statements were introduced to give tenants certainty and choice when it comes to choosing which rental house to live in. The lack of understanding in this area is something we see a lot in our work – it is great to see the Tribunal support the importance of these statements,” Mr Watson said.
“Just as important as the financial deterrent, the Tenancy Tribunal issued an Order that allows TCIT to return to the property to ensure the gas work has been fixed, which will ensure future tenants can safely live in the rental.”
The Tribunal Order also issued a restraining Order for two years, which means if Ms Liu is found to breach the law again in that period, she could face criminal charges in the District Court.
“Landlords need to comply with the provisions of the RTA and not put tenant safety at risk through poor maintenance and ignoring the law. The Tenancy Tribunal Order rightly stated that smoke alarms ‘go to the very heart of tenant safety’.
“Securing this type of Order highlights the important work the Team is doing across New Zealand to hold landlords who seriously breach the RTA to account,” Mr Watson said.
An Auckland landlord has been fined $2000 for failing to install smoke alarms in a rental property.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment successfully took Arie Peter Sterk to the Tenancy Tribunal for the breach last week.
Sterk has also been restrained from committing the same offence for six years, or will face further legal action.
Steve Watson, MBIE’s national manager of the tenancy compliance and investigation team, said it served as a reminder to all landlords that failing to comply with tenancy laws would not be tolerated.
“By failing to meet his legal obligations, Mr Sterk deprived his tenant of a warm, dry, and safe home, and put them at risk if there had been a fire,” said Watson.
“It is important landlords realise not installing smoke alarms correctly isn’t only a legal compliance issue, but something that can have a very real effect on tenants.
“When a landlord rents a property, they must have at least one working smoke alarm on each level, either in each bedroom, or within three metres of the bedroom door.”
The best thing a landlord could do was download the compliance checklist from the Tenancy Services website (www.tenancy.govt.nz) to ensure they were fully compliant with their obligations, Watson said.
Not installing smoke alarms can cost landlords exemplary damages of up to $4000.
“Compliance” is a common word these days in the industry. Ensure your Smoke Alarms are still being maintained regardless of industry changes and deadlines.
Fires can occur to properties that are serviced by SATS too. Here is what some of our Property Managers have to say…
“The fire started in the ceiling of the en-suite and the alarm closest to the main bedroom alerted the tenants, who rang the fire brigade. The fire was contained to the en-suite and ceiling cavity above the main bedroom. The tenants were sitting in the lounge at the far end of the house, this could’ve been much much worse. We are so thankful that there were alarms throughout the property, which have an annual servicing from SATS.”
“Both fires were attached to properties that our agency manage, one is managed by myself and thankfully the smoke alarms were maintained by SATS and were in working order, meaning our tenant was alerted to the fire and was able to escape through a window and down the fire escape.”
“Sadly I have had a very serious fire just two weeks ago where a three story townhouse burnt to the ground so the urgency for me is now front of mind. Thankfully there were working smoke alarms that saved the family of five who were fast asleep on the top floor.”
“Another flat fire this morning – it is one of our properties and is an upstairs property. The one below this caught on fire early hours this morning damaging our property with smoke – our smoke alarms went off.”
Here are some other recent events so far this Spring…
“For us, every house fire is a failure, especially when there’s a fatality.”
Full article here
“There were no smoke alarms in the house, and that’s something else that people have got to ensure they have in place and working properly.”
Full article here
Leave the job to SATS, not to chance.
- Comply today and get the tax man to pay!With End of Financial Year fast approaching, now is the time to book those properties in for their annual Smoke Alarm Compliance check.
Happy Landlords + Happy Tenants = Happy Property Managers.
Another Tax deductible service for your Landlords that also keeps your portfolio compliant.
Already an existing client? Send your work orders through to email@example.com today and we will take care of the rest.
Are you a Property Manager wanting to take advantage of a Tax deductible service for your Landlords? Click HERE for further information.
- Working smoke alarms
Ensure your home has smoke alarms that are correctly positioned, operational, regularly tested and compliant. Early warning systems can save lives and your home should a fire break out.
- Keep your stove and oven areas clear
Never leave anything flammable near hot surfaces in the kitchen, especially your stove and oven spaces. Keep tea towels, cleaning cloths, placemats, curtains and cookbooks all well away from this zone. Try to avoid resting anything on hotplates even when they are turned off.
- Check electrical cords
Frayed and broken charging and electrical cords can easily become a hazard as they heat up. Ensure you replace or remove immediately. Try to avoid charging phones and devices on material surfaces – again the charging packs and cords can heat up and pose a fire risk.
- Keep fire extinguishers and blankets handy
Ensure you keep an in-date fire extinguisher and a fire blanket in handy places such as the kitchen. Make sure everyone in your home knows where they are located and remove any obstructions that make them hard to reach in an emergency.
- Store flammable products safely
Store your household cleaners and beauty products away from heat to avoid combustion. Cool, dark cupboards with constant temperatures are ideal. This also applies to products stored in your garage and shed. Metal spaces heat up far quicker and can pose a real risk if not managed with care.
- Be cautious with flames
When using candles, diffusers, fireplaces, BBQs and fire-pits make sure you keep an eye on them at all times. It is also a good idea to keep any flammable items well away from these areas and extinguish before going to bed or leaving the room/area.
Celebrate Easter in style with some homemade goodies that are all about chocolate and Easter.
- Crowd favourite Hot Cross Buns via maggiebeer.com.au
- A fun festive flair on Easter with Easter Nests via countdown.co.nz
- It’s not Easter with out delicious Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes via mybakingaddiction.com
- Use leftover Easter treats for a scrumptious egg-plosion of Rainbow Easter Egg Rocky Road via goodfood.com
- It is important that in the event of a fire (or emergency) you have a safety checklist and escape plan. Take the time to put both in place with your family, friends or boarders – it could potentially save a life.
A home fire safety checklist consists of a to-do list to prevent your home from catching on fire. These measures should be applied on a daily basis to help reduce the risk overall. The to-do list may include items such as times to regularly clean, dust, check and maintain smoke alarms throughout the home. It may also note general safety actions such as keeping flammable items away from heat sources, being present when there are lit flames (candles, fires, BBQs etc.), safe storage of combustible goods and good practices in the kitchen when cooking and cleaning.
Read our blog to see tips on creating an Escape plan for your home.
A kind postie comforted a young mother and her children while firefighters put out a kitchen fire in their Hāwera home on Wednesday.
Ellen Te Waaka said she was attending to her three-month-old baby when the smoke alarm in her lounge went off just after midday.
A pot of oil on the stove that she was heating to cook chips for her three-year-old daughter Emmalee’s lunch had ignited.
“It was all black from the smoke and there was orange flames. I just picked up my baby and my little girl and ran out,” she said.
Once outside, Te Waaka realised she had no way of calling the fire brigade.
“I laid my baby down on the grass and ran back in to get my phone.”
The distressed family waited outside the house for the fire brigade.
“I was screaming for help but no one came,” she said. “Then the postie came along and saw me crying on the footpath, she asked if I was ok. I said, no, my house is on fire, and she grabbed Emma for me.”
The postie stayed with Te Waaka, cuddling little Emmalee, until well after the two fire trucks and crews from the Hāwera Volunteer Fire Brigade had arrived.
“She said she had came back because she had forgotten to post some mail. I don’t know her name, she’s the awesome postie lady,” Te Waaka said said.
The fire was quickly put out by firefighters with a dry powder extinguisher.
“They are very, very lucky people,” chief fire officer Mike Fairweather said.
“The smoke alarm activated early, that helped them get out of the house, it saved the house from becoming fully involved.”
Once firefighters had ventilated the house to remove the smoke, and checked for hot spots, the family was allowed back in.
Property manager Stanella Nui of First National Real Estate said the rented house had an extra smoke alarm installed in the lounge, as well as the ones required by law near the bedrooms, and this had activated, alerting the tenant to the fire very soon after it ignited.
In just two minutes, a fire can become lift-threatening. In five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames. Scary isn’t it! This doesn’t give you much time to think about how to get yourself or family member to safety. Taking the time to an escape plan in place with your family, friends or boarders could potentially save a life.
An Escape Plan will ensure you know the best escape locations around your home with an active course of action should you become trapped by fire. When designing an escape plan, everyone in the home should be included. Make sure everyone knows the plan of escape as well as where to meet should you become separated during a fire emergency.
You should consider escape locations, meeting places and the best times to call for help. This plan can also be used for other emergency situations. If you have children, helping them know what to do can assist in managing panic and fear should the worst ever happen.
How do you make a fire plan? Here are a few elements to consider when making a plan:
- Draw a floor plan so you can review ways to escape from each room
- Keep door and window keys easily accessible
- Try to keep all exits clear
- Decide on a meeting point that is a safe distance from the house (letterbox, clothesline, at a neighbours home, a nearby street sign)
- Remind everyone that when you get out – you stay out. Never return into a burning building
- Practice! It is essential that everyone in the household knows what to do in the event of a Fire.
If your curious about what your child/children would do if faced with a house fire, put them to the test! Do you think you’ll like the outcome?
It’s important for children to learn about the dangers of fire, in all circumstances. There are many different ways to bring this to a child’s attention. Information is power, if we can teach children what to do in these situations, they will be able to protect themselves if you are separated.
Here are some essential points:
- First things first, Teach them your escape plan. Children can be overwhelmed with fear, a step by step plan of what to do is key for a child’s survival when faced with uncommon happenings.
- Practice makes perfect, it’s not enough to talk about it once. Children’s brains are contently growing with new information. Ideally hanging up your escape plan and practising the plan at least twice a year.
- When there’s no way out. In the instance of getting trapped by fire, the most important thing to remember is to close the door. Put bedding or cloth under the door to block off any smoke that will seep through.
- Wait for help, Firefighters have breathing mask that can look intimidating to children. Make sure that they know what the firefighter gear looks like, so they don’t get scared and hide.
- Stop, drop and roll. A key point to save your life, when caught on fire. Most kids first instincts will be to run away which will only make it worse.
- Once out stay out – Call 111 – stay safe. Your life can’t be replaced.