Staying compliant, keeping people and property safe

Our recommendations for choosing and placing smoke alarms

As you are likely to already know, all rental properties must have working smoke alarms installed. To be compliant with legislation there are a few rules that must be followed:

(1)    They must be working

(2)    Existing smoke alarms are acceptable as long as they have not passed the manufacturer’s expiry date

(3)    All new smoke alarms must be photoelectric and have a long battery life, or be hard-wired.

Smoke alarms must be located according to these instructions:

·        within 3 meters of each bedroom door, or in every room where a person sleeps

·        in each level or story of a multi-story or multi-level home

·        in all rental homes, boarding houses, rental caravans, and self-contained sleep-outs.

All new smoke alarms must:

·        be photoelectric

·        have a battery life of at least eight years, or be hard-wired

·        installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions

·        meet international standards.

As you may be aware, one of our owners is an ex-professional firefighter and he has some guidelines that our company chooses to follow.

·        Locate the smoke alarms inside each bedroom. This prevents any possible detection failures due to bedroom doors being closed.

·        We consider that a lounge is an area where you could reasonably expect a person to sleep so we like one to be installed in the living area.

·        There is no need to install a smoke alarm in a kitchen. Placing a smoke alarm in the litchen can be problematic: if the alarm goes off because of smoke from cooking activities, the tenant is more likely to remove the battery, in which case the alarm is no longer doing its job.

How we help

During our property inspections we always test all smoke alarms. If it fails then we advise the tenant to replace the battery, as this is their responsibility during their tenancy.

If a new battery does not solve the issue then we can quickly go around and install another one, at a charge to the landlord of $45 + GST (alarm and install charge).

The tenant is also responsible for ensuring that all smoke alarms remain connected and in place. Whenever we see that a tenant has tampered with a smoke alarm we issue them with a 14-day-notice to remedy.

But which one to choose?

Consumer NZ has carried out extensive testing of 20 different brands and types of smoke alarms. You can read the results here. You do not need to spend a fortune to get a smoke alarm that will keep your tenants and your property safe.

Our recommendation is to buy a photo-electric with a 10 year battery, such as QUELL Q1400 (around $29 each) or ARMA NV107S (around $19 each).