Smoke alarm authority

Question from josh updated on 26th August 2019:

Recently I was informed by our property manager that an after hours call out of an electrician was required because a smoke alarm was malfunctioning (constantly in alarm state). The alarm was only about two years old and is a photoelectric type with a 10 year battery life which if removed from its base would go silent. It has since been destroyed and disposed of by the electrician.

Now we are expected to pay the call out fee and the replacement cost for the alarm, even though this could have been dealt with by the tenant and the faulty alarm replaced under the manufactures warranty. Are we within our rights to dispute this with the property management company?


Our expert Bernard Parker responded:

If you are not happy with the property manager’s decision you should discuss it with the manager. What level of authority did the property manager have? If the tenant did not have the capability to climb on a ladder or chair to remove the faulty smoke alarm I can understand the property manager calling an electrician on two counts – to stop the alarm from disturbing the tenants and to replace a faulty alarm with a working one which complies with the law.

Having no alarm is unacceptable under tenancy law, even for a night. Try to look at the big picture – you have a working smoke alarm, the house was protected by that alarm after hours, and the tenant is happy.



Bernard is principal of Quinovic – Kapiti-Mana. Quinovic's outstanding people and systems provide the most professional, effective and reliable residential property management service in the NZ market for over 30 years.

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