Smoke alarms: What you need to know about the new regulations
July 5, 2016
Changes to the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) aim to reduce fire-related injuries and deaths and to make homes warmer, drier and safer for the million New Zealanders who live in rental accommodation.
By 1 July 2016 all residential rental properties covered by the RTA must meet the following regulatory requirements:
There must be a minimum of one working smoke alarm within 3 metres of each bedroom door, and in a self-contained caravan, sleep out or similar there must be a minimum of one working smoke alarm.
The landlord is responsible for making sure smoke alarms are in working order at the beginning of every new tenancy.
The tenant is responsible for replacing batteries (if required) during their tenancy.
In multi-story units there must be one smoke alarm on each level within the household unit.
Long life photoelectric smoke alarms are now required where there are no existing alarms. When existing smoke alarms are replaced, the replacements must be long life photoelectric smoke alarms.
Hard wired smoke alarms are also acceptable.
All smoke alarms must be replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommended replacement date stated on the alarm.
All new and replacement smoke alarms in rental properties are to be installed in accordance with placement requirements provided in the manufacturer’s instructions. The illustrations below from New Zealand Standard 4514 provide a simple guide on where to place alarms. You can also find helpful information on the NZ Fire Service’s website.
When smoke alarms are installed or replaced, you should ensure the alarms you purchase comply with the manufacturing standard: Australian Standard AS3786:1993; or equivalent international standard: UL217 (USA), ULCS531 (Canada), BS5446: Part 1 (United Kingdom), BS EN 14604 (United Kingdom) or ISO12239 (International). (This should be displayed prominently on the packaging.)
It is an unlawful act for tenants to cause or permit any interference with, or to render inoperative, any means of escape from fire – which includes smoke alarms. The maximum fine for this offence is $3,000.
Note: These regulations don’t override any additional compliance requirements for smoke alarms in other legislation eg; multi-unit residential complexes, student accommodation or boarding houses.
Illustrations highlighting best practice for installing smoke alarms in homes with particular construction styles