Smoke Alarm Legislation New Zealand

Smoke alarm legislation was introduced in New Zealand in July 1st 2016 via changes to the residential Tenancy act. Tenancies (Smoke Alarms and Insulation) Regulations 2016.

The legislation details specific responsibilities for Landlords, Agents and Tenants.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment put all agents on notice on 10 April 2017 confirming that random auditing would take place for Landlords and property management companies.

Landlords who are found to have failed to meet current legislation may incur penalties of up to $7,2000.

Property management companies are acting on behalf of landlords, and as such, have a responsibility to ensure the properties they manage, meet all legal requirements.

Landlord responsibilities

Smoke alarms are mandatory in those homes and other shared accommodation buildings where people sleep as specified in Tenancies (Smoke Alarms and Insulation) Regulations 2016.

Smoke alarms are to be qualifying smoke alarms and installed:

  • within 3 meters of each bedroom door, or in every room where a person sleeps
  • in each level or story of a multi-story or multi-level home
  • in all rental homes, boarding houses, rental caravans, and self-contained sleep-outs
  • The requirements must be met as at the commencement of the tenancy and at all subsequent times during the tenancy

All new smoke alarms must:

  • be photoelectric
  • have a battery life of at least ten years, or be hard-wired
  • installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions
  • meet Australian standards 3786—1993
  • Existing smoke alarms do not need to be replaced if they are working, and have not passed the manufacturer’s expiry date

What is a qualifying smoke alarm?

  • the alarm must be fully operational and otherwise in full working order, with no faults, defects, or damage
  • the alarm must be installed at a location that accords with the manufacturer’s instructions for the alarm
  • the alarm’s recommended replacement date must not have passed
  • the alarm’s recommended replacement date must be displayed on the alarm
  • the alarm must be a photoelectric alarm:
  • the manufacturer’s instructions for the alarm must include a certification, or other statement, to the effect that the alarm
  • has been manufactured in accordance with—AS 3786—1993

Landlords and tenants are responsible for maintaining smoke alarms

Landlords must ensure smoke alarms:

  • are in working order
  • are working at the start of each new tenancy

Tenants must:

  • not damage, remove, or disconnect a smoke alarm
  • replace batteries during the tenancy if there are older- style smoke alarms with replaceable batteries
  • let the landlord know if there are any problems with the smoke alarms as soon as possible

Boarding Houses

There must be at least 1 qualifying smoke alarm installed—

  • in the tenant’s boarding room or otherwise at the premises within 3 metres of the entrance (or main entrance) to the tenant’s boarding room.
  • on the storey or level in the habitable space or in at least 1 of the habitable spaces (as the case may be).
  • Landlords must replace expired batteries in the common areas of boarding houses like hallways and kitchens.
  • Tenants must replace expired batteries in their rooms.