Peace of mind comes with a working smoke detector alarm.
Smoke alarms are an essential safety feature in rental properties and have the potential to save lives in the event of a fire. In this blog, we will discuss the rules and regulations surrounding smoke alarms in rental properties, including acceptable types of detectors, installation tips, the importance of record-keeping, and maintenance responsibilities.
Fire and Emergency NZ discovered that in 80% of the house fires they attended to at a property either hadn’t installed smoke alarms correctly or they were not working. As much as there is a responsibility on the tenant’s behalf to report failures and maintain the batteries, as the provider of the product, landlords should proactively seek to safeguard their investment. By maintaining the effectiveness of a property’s smoke alarms, a landlord is essentially taking out a very cost-effective insurance on the unlikely event that a fire was to occur (this may be a goodtime for landlords to assess how their actual insurance policy is impacted by fire). This not only aids in protecting the property but more importantly alerting the tenants to the potential dangers of a fire and avoiding a preventable tragedy.
Acceptable Smoke Alarms in Rental Properties?
It is mandatory for rental properties to have smoke alarms installed, and they must meet specific requirements. According to the law, new smoke alarms must be photoelectric and have a long battery life of at least 10 years or be hard-wired into a power source. Additionally, the detectors must meet international standards and be installed according to the manufacturer's instructions.
While existing (already installed) older-style alarms do not need to be replaced immediately, they must be in good condition. However, as they are replaced, they must be replaced with alarms that meet new standards.
It is essential to note that the type of smoke alarm you install can make a significant difference in detecting fires. Photoelectric smoke alarms are more effective in detecting smouldering fires, which produce more smoke and toxic gases before flaming occurs.
It is best to install a photoelectric smoke alarm to ensure maximum coverage. It is also important to note that interconnected smoke alarms provide additional protection and should be installed in all rental properties.
Where Should Smoke Alarms be Installed?
Smoke alarms or detectors must be installed within three meters of bedroom doors. This is important because most fires start in bedrooms, and the detectors must be close enough to detect smoke quickly. It is also essential to install smoke alarms on every level of the property, including the basement and attic or sleepout if applicable.
It is recommended to install smoke alarms on the ceiling or high on the wall, as smoke rises and can quickly fill a room. Avoid installing smoke alarms near windows, doors, or air vents, as this may interfere with their ability to detect smoke.
It is crucial to follow the manufacturer's instructions when installing smoke alarms. This includes determining the appropriate placement and ensuring that the detectors are securely fastened. Additionally, it is essential to test smoke alarms regularly to ensure that they are in good working condition. At The Rent Shop we maintain close collaboration with smoke alarm installation contractors and offer on-site yearly comprehensive assessments at a highly competitive price point.
We are pleased to inform you that in the upcoming weeks, we will be sharing details of a smoke alarm testing subscription service designed for Landlords who seek to ensure regular monitoring of their rental properties.
Record-Keeping-the importance of this
Record-keeping is an essential aspect of maintaining smoke alarms in rental properties. Landlords are required to keep records of smoke alarm installations, replacements, and maintenance. This includes the date of installation, the type of detector installed, and the date of any replacements or repairs.
Record-keeping is not only a legal requirement but also ensures that landlords are providing a safe environment for their tenants. In the event of a fire, these records can provide evidence that the landlord took appropriate measures to ensure that the property was adequately equipped with functioning smoke alarms.
At The Rent Shop its our standard protocols during routine inspections to verify the presence of smoke alarms. Additionally, we communicate with tenants to address, any concerns or issues related to the smoke alarms.
Maintenance Responsibilities-Tenant and Landlord
Landlords are responsible for ensuring that smoke alarms are installed, maintained, and in good working condition always. This includes, testing detectors, and addressing any issues promptly.
Tenants are also responsible for ensuring that smoke alarms are in good working condition. This includes testing smoke alarms regularly, reporting any issues to the landlord immediately, and replacing batteries as needed.
It is important to note that failure to comply with smoke alarm regulations can result in significant fines and legal consequences. Therefore, landlords and tenants must take smoke alarm maintenance seriously and ensure that detectors are always in good condition.
Failure by landlords to follow these responsibilities has been viewed by the Tenancy Tribunal in a stern fashion. There have been several cases where landlords have been fined for not providing these safety facilities, the maximum fine being $4000. In two recent cases the landlords were ordered to pay$2000 and $2500 for failing to provide smoke alarms. The details of these Tribunal Orders can be viewed at https://forms.justice.govt.nz/search/Documents/TTV2/PDF/4058085-Tribunal_Order.pdf and https://forms.justice.govt.nz/search/Documents/TTV2/130606623.pdf.
In summary, smoke alarms are a crucial safety feature that must be taken seriously in rental properties. By following the regulations and ensuring that smoke alarms are installed, maintained, and in good working condition, landlords and tenants can create a safe environment for all occupants.
For additional guidance concerning your property management requirements please reach out to our Business Development Team on 09 555 9100 or your designated Property Manager should you have any questions or concerns.