In the last days of October 2018, a fire in a rental property in Hamilton proved a perfect example of how smoke alarms can save lives and a reminder that since 2016, smoke alarms have been mandatory in all rental properties.
On October 29 2018, a fire in a flat in Hamilton East broke out while three tenants slept. The smoke alarm responded at 11.50pm.
The residents of the York Street three bedroom flat escaped as soon as they heard the smoke alarm with nothing but their pyjamas, losing everything in the house, plus a Holden sedan which was melted irreparably on the driveway.
Hamilton brigade senior station officer Alban Osborne said tenants, who were a young woman, her partner and sister woke to the noise. The Fire Service arrived to see the 90sqm home at the front of a section of two units was engulfed. Residents nearby were also woken by the noise.
Flames from the fire were reported to have reached higher than the Sky receiver on the roof. Flames destroyed the roof, leaping three metres above the iron. The heat was intense enough that neighbours’ houses received a roasting, too.
Walls burned down to the frames and possessions were toasted.
Lessons landlords can learn – smoke alarm compliance rules
Smoke alarms aren’t terribly expensive, but the cost of neglecting to include smoke alarms is huge. Smoke alarm compliance is not the job of the property manager. This is why it’s essential to let Rental Experts know the status of your smoke alarms.
- At the start of every new tenancy, landlords must ensure the smoke alarms are working
- Landlords don’t have to replace the batteries in battery-operated smoke alarms (that’s the tenants’ job)
- Caravans and sleepouts also require smoke alarms if they are being rented
- There must be at least one working smoke alarm within 3 metres of each bedroom door or every room where a person sleeps.
- In multi-storey or multi-level homes (including split levels) there must be at least one smoke alarm on each level or storey
- All new smoke alarms must be photoelectric and have a battery life of at least eight years, or be hard-wired
- Not only do landlords face $4000 fines for failing to keep smoke alarms satisfactory – TENANTS can be fined up to $3000 as well if they damage, remove or disconnect a smoke alarm
The reasons smoke alarm testing is outside your Northland property manager’s scope of work are:
- The Residential Tenancies Act (Smoke Alarms and Insulation Regulations) specifies landlords are responsible for having smoke alarms installed; tenants must ensure batteries function.
- Insurance doesn’t cover accidents happening to Rental Experts property managers during inspections
- Property managers don’t have the equipment to professionally test the alarm’s decibels (sound)
- Smoke alarm testing is not a standard part of normal 3-monthly inspections of properties
Rental Experts prefers landlords agree for Smoke Alarm Testing Services (SATS) to test your smoke alarms by ticking the box on the following page and returning to us, so your property can comply with the Residential Tenancies Act Smoke Alarms and Insulation Regulations 2016. Please contact us to ensure we’re all on the safe page around the provision of working smoke alarms in your rental property.