We recently had a fire at one of our rental properties due to a malfunction of an electrical appliance, which was the motivator in writing this blog as a reminder about smoke alarms and fire safety in your rental properties. It's always important to think about fire safety in the home -especially during the winter when people are using heaters and fireplaces. Fortunately, the tenants were safe and most of their belongings were not destroyed as the neighbour heard the smoke alarm sounding and called emergency services- 111.The Landlord was covered for full insurance. As part of our mandatory service The Rent Shop had completed a smoke alarm check within the last 12 months.
The New Zealand Fire and Emergency have documented that most fire fatalities occur in rental properties without working smoke alarms or no smoke alarms were present at all. Fire moves incredibly fast – a house fire can kill within three minutes. Correctly installed smoke alarms are the first line of defence when it comes to protecting your investment and the lives of people in it. As of 1 July 2016, all rental properties must have smoke alarms installed. Landlords and tenants both have responsibilities to make sure they remain working. Most fire fatalities occur in rental properties without working smoke alarms. There should be smoke alarms installed in bedrooms, living rooms and hallways. We recommend long-life photo electric alarms (the battery doesn't have to be replaced for up to 10 years).
· Landlords are responsible for making sure smoke alarms are in good working order and meet the Residential Tenancies Act requirements
· Working smoke alarms are required in each sleeping space or within 3 metres of each bedroom door.
· A working smoke alarm is also required in caravans and self-contained sleep-outs.
· They are also responsible for ensuring they have working batteries at the start of each new tenancy.
We would recommend a yearly maintenance check
· Tenants must replace expired batteries( if required) during the duration of their tenancy
· Tenants must also alert their landlord or property manager if they detect any problems with the smoke alarm, as soon as possible
· Tenants must not damage, remove or disconnect the alarm.
· Keep a fire extinguisher somewhere visible and easy to locate, but out of reach of children
· Inform tenants of its location at the start of a tenancy
· Regularly check your extinguisher works and get it serviced according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Fireplaces and heating
· Regularly have all your heat sources and gas lines checked and change filters.
· The chimney flue has been cleaned in the last year
· A fireguard or spark guard is always used when the fire is lit
· Matches and lighters are kept out of reach of children
· Clothing and other items are not left to dry on top of heaters
· Heaters are plugged directly into a wall socket
· Ensure that leads on any appliances you provide are in good condition and not frayed
· Encourage tenants to let you know if they notice any faulty wiring or smell a gas leak
· Attend to any electrical repairs immediately
· Check for hot spots in your blanket by turning it on high for 15 minutes, then switching it off and running your hand over the blanket
· Are less than 5years old
· Are rolled during storage, not folded
· Are always turned off before going to sleep
· Cords and controls are not twisted, and the blankets lies flat on the bed
· Heavy objects are never placed on the bed whilst electric blanket is in use
· The lint filter is cleaned before every use, to avoid lint build-up and risk of fire
· The dryer isn’t overloaded
· There is space around the dryer to allow for proper venting
· The full cycle is used, including cool down
· Turn off appliances when not in use. If practical, unplug them at the wall as well.
· Keep all electrical appliances away from water.
· When buying second hand appliances, ensure they've been tested by a licensed electrician or gasfitter, and have been certified as safe.
· Do not place fans, heaters, televisions, or other electrical equipment in areas without good airflow, as they may overheat.
If you're worried about the conditions of any appliances (like electric blankets, heaters, air conditioners or fans), have them checked by a qualified electrician
Here are some tips for keeping your house fire safe outside:
· Keep gutters clean during summer.
· Change your doormat to a non-flammable one.
· Enclose decks so vegetation and debris can’t collect, and embers can't enter.
· Keep areas that collect debris free over summer months.
· If you have vegetation against your house, consider removing it or replacing plants with less flammable species.
· Screen vents and close in decks to ensure embers can’t be blown into these areas.
· Keep lawns watered and green during the summer months.
· Prune tree branches to a height of 2 meters or more so ground fire can’t ignite them.
· Remove all trees, long grass, shrubs and logs branches, twigs and needles within 10 meters of your house, as they are fuel for fire.
· Thin trees (with3-6 meters between crowns) for at least 30 meters from house, this reduces how far and fast a fire can spread.
Please refer to the link for The Fire and Emergency Website for a safety checklist https://fireandemergency.nz/home-and-community-fire-safety/renters-home-fire-safety-checklist/
One of the many benefits at The Rent Shop is we have relationships with qualified electricians and tradesman. Speak to your property manager who can arrange maintenance and repairs on your investment property.
As an investor, you want to know your rental property is in safe hands. To find our more about our services we offer and Why The Rent Shop is the right choice then contact our Business Development Manager Sandy on 095559100 or click contact us on our website https://www.therentshop.co.nz/