What are the Rules for Smoke Alarms in Rental Properties?

May 2023

Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Smoke alarms or detectors save lives and are mandatory in rental properties. We look at which detectors are acceptable, the importance of record-keeping, installation tips and who is responsible for maintenance.

Which Smoke Alarms are Acceptable in Rental Properties?

New smoke alarms must be photoelectric and have a long battery life of at least eight years or be hard-wired into a power source. The detectors must meet international standards and be installed according to the manufacturer's instructions - something many people overlook. Existing (as in, already installed) older-style alarms do not need to be replaced immediately but they must be in good condition.  And of course, as they are replaced, be replaced with alarms that meet new standards. 

How Should Smoke Alarms be Installed?

Smoke alarms or detectors must be installed:

  • Within three metres of bedroom doors, or in every room where people sleep;
  • On each level of a multi-level home;
  • In all rental properties, boarding houses, self-contained sleep outs and rented caravans.

Do Existing Smoke Alarms Need to be Replaced with Photoelectric Alarms?

If they are in good working condition existing smoke alarms do not need to be replaced. However, all alarms must not be past their expiry date, and it is recommended all smoke detectors are replaced every 10 years with new long-life photoelectric detectors.

Who is Responsible for the Maintenance of Smoke Alarms in Rental Properties?

Landlords and tenants are both responsible for maintaining smoke alarms in rental properties. 

Landlords must:

  • Ensure smoke detectors are in working order at the beginning of each new tenancy;
  • Ensure alarms remain in working order throughout the tenancy.

Tenants must:

  • Refrain from moving, disconnecting or damaging alarms;
  • Replace batteries in older-style alarms;
  • Alert the landlord or property manager if there are any issues with their smoke alarms.

Remember a landlord must give 24 hours' notice before entering a rental property.

Read more about Who is Responsible for Maintenance and Repairs in a Rental Property?

How Often Should You Check Your Smoke Alarms?

It's important for tenants to check their smoke detectors are working regularly. We recommend pushing the test button to check the alarm sound is working monthly.

Tips for Smoke Alarm Maintenance

  • Replace older style smoke alarm batteries (9V batteries) once a year. The change of daylight-saving hours is a good time to do this.
  • Make note of the expiry date of smoke detectors. If there is no expiry date a landlord must replace the detector.
  • Replace all smoke detectors every 10 years with new longer life photoelectric smoke alarms.
  • Vacuum or dust smoke alarms once every six months.
  • Specialist companies that provide annual independent reviews of smoke alarms are available and your professional property manager should be able to recommend a reliable supplier.

Record-Keeping Protocols

Tenancy Agreements must include a smoke alarm statement. It is recommended that smoke alarms are checked regularly by someone knowledgeable, to ensure the sensor is working correctly rather than just checking the alarm sounds when the button is pushed. The professional providing this service should provide a record of their test or service which should be kept on file.

Contact Crockers

For any further advice on any of your property management needs? Contact the helpful Crockers Property Management team at pm@crockers.co.nz or call for a chat on 09 623 5952. 

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Call 0800 CROCKERS or Call 0800 2762 5377

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