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Hardwired smoke alarms at rental properties

Tuesday, June 11, 2019
 

This week's question comes from Zosie (paraphrased):  

 

Is there a law governing smoke alarms that are wired into house alarms? Who is authorised to check that these alarms are in working order and how often do they need to check it? 

In answering Zosie's question, we will be speaking specifically about residential tenancy setting aside any issues relating to building, consumer goods, fire safety etc. 

 

The Residential Tenancies Act requires that all rental properties be supplied with smoke alarms. 'There must be at least one smoke alarm within 3 meters of each bedroom door or every room where a person sleeps. In self-contained caravans, sleep outs or similar, there must be a minimum of one working smoke alarm. In multi-storey or multi-level homes (including split levels) there must be at least one smoke alarm on each level or storey.' If the alarms are installed after 1 July 2016, they must be photoelectric smoke alarms with long-life batteries that last for more than 8 years. Hard-wired alarms are also acceptable so long as the system has sensors in each bedroom or within 3 metres of each bedroom door and there must also be at least one smoke alarm installed on each story or level. Though we are unfamiliar with the type of alarm Zosie refers to (smoke + security hybrid), we assume that the requirements for these alarms in a rental property scenario would be the same.

Landlords must ensure that the alarms they supply at the start of the tenancy are in working order and remain in working order during the tenancy. This means that the alarms should be checked/tested regularly. In terms of how often they should be checked, we recommend that you refer to the manufacturer's instructions in the first instance. Additionally, we also don't think there is any harm to check the alarms each time you inspect the property (the RTA allows you to inspect once every four weeks). Under the RTA, landlords can also enter the property between 8am and 7pm after 24 hours notice for the prupose of complying with smoke alarm requirements (installation, maintenance, repair). The Fire Service offers a helpful guide on maintenance and inspection here. It is also worth mentioning that each inspection should be properly documented so that you can clearly demonstrate compliance. APIA members can download this template smoke alarm log for this purpose. If the hybrid alarm is monitored, we also recommend getting a regular service log from the monitoring company to demonstrate compliance.

See also: 

Smoke alarm requirements by Tenancy Services

Do you have any tenancy related questions? Write to us at admin@apia.org.nz or hit us up on our social channels here and here

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