Landlord's obligation for smoke alarms

Pichuda asks:
(updated on Wednesday, July 13th 2011)

What are the landlord's obligation re smoke alarms in properties that do not currently have them?

Our Experts Answer:

The Building Act 2004 requires that all alterations and new buildings must comply with provisions of the building code that relate to “means of escape from fire”, and this “includes all active and passive protection features required to warn people of fire and to assist in protecting people from the effects of fire in the course of their escape from the fire”.

However, the requirement does not apply to existing buildings that have not been altered. Despite this, recent statements by coroners have indicated that there is increasing concern about accidental deaths caused by fire in rental properties, and we may see some movement towards compulsory provision of smoke alarms.

In Queensland there are requirements on landlords to provide working smoke alarms at start of tenancy and on tenants to maintain them in working order during a tenancy. It would seem sensible for New Zealand to head down a similar track.

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