Residential Tenancies (Smoke Alarms and Insulation) Regulations 2016 http://legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2016/0128/latest/ come into force on 1 July 2016, although some parts are deferred.  This article will discuss, in general terms the regulatory requirements for residential tenancies.  The specific requirements are technical in nature and appropriate advice should be taken when considering your obligations.

Smoke Alarms
1.The requirements are imposed on all landlords including landlords of boarding house tenancies.
2.The smoke alarm requirements have effect from 1 July 2016.
3.The requirements are:

(a)Every smoke alarm must be a “qualifying smoke alarm”;
(b)A qualifying smoke alarm (other than a hardwired smoke alarm system) must:
(i)be fully operational and otherwise in fully working order, with no defaults, defects or damage;
(ii)be installed at a location that accords with manufacturer’s instructions;
(iii)not have passed its recommended replacement date;
(iv)if installed after 1 July 2016 also:
  • have its recommended replacement date displayed on the alarm;
  • be a photoelectric alarm; and
  • the manufacturer’s instructions for the alarm must include a certification or other statement to the effect the alarm has been manufactured in accordance with AS 3786 – 1993 or an equivalent smoke alarm standard;
(v)contain all necessary batteries which must all be compliant batteries (unless it is hard wired).  A compliant battery is generally a battery that complies with a manufacturer’s instructions for the alarm, is not worn out and (in relation to smoke alarms installed after 1 July 2016) the battery manufacturer has certified the battery.
(c)be at least one qualifying smoke alarm installed in each sleeping space or otherwise within three meters of the entrance (or main entrance) to the sleeping space;
(d)be at least one qualifying smoke alarm installed on every storey or level on which there is one or more habitable space.

4.There are different requirements for:

(a)boarding house tenancies;
(b)hard wired smoke alarm systems.
This website article does not address those tenancies or systems.

5.There is an obligation on tenants to replace batteries for alarms that are not hardwired with compliant batteries if the battery contained in the alarm becomes worn out (unless the alarm is not designed to permit a battery to be replaced).

Insulation Generally
1.The requirements for insulation apply to Housing New Zealand and community housing rentals from 1 July 2016, and from 1 July 2019 for all other tenancies.
2.The insulation requirements cover both ceiling insulation and underfloor insulation.
3.A landlord may be exempted from the requirement to install insulation (whether ceiling or underfloor) because:

(a)the location to install the insulation cannot be accessed, or
(b)it cannot be installed without creating risks to health or safety of any person which are greater than the risks that are normally acceptable, or
(c)it is otherwise not reasonably practicable to install the insulation.
Special requirements apply for this exemption.

4.Further partial exemptions and full exemptions apply where:

(a)When the original insulation was installed it complied with the thermal insulation requirements then imposed under any enactment or bylaw (and the Landlord has documentation as proof) or;
(b)the landlord intends to demolish or substantially re-build the premises within 12 months;
(c)the tenant is the former owner of the premises (for the first 12 months of that tenancy).
Ceiling Insulation

1.The ceilings of habitable spaces must be fully covered by ceiling insulation that is qualifying ceiling insulation.
2.Qualifying ceiling insulation must attain certain R-Values which differ throughout the country (Zones 1, 2 and 3).
3.Different requirements apply for ceiling insulation originally installed before 1 July 2016.

Underfloor Insulation
1.Floors or habitable spaces, so far as they are suspended floors, must be fully covered by underfloor insulation that is qualifying underfloor insulation.
2.Again, the underfloor insulation must be qualifying underfloor insulation which must attain specified R-values.
3.The requirement for underfloor insulation does not apply if another habitable space is immediately below the floor or clearances are reasonably required around any other item that is installed in or under the floor.
4.Specific requirements apply for underfloor insulation, or part of the underfloor insulation, that was originally installed before 1 July 2016.
In respect of both ceiling and underfloor insulation it is important, from 1 July 2016, to ensure the manufacturer’s instructions either certify or state the R-Value and make sure that R-Value complies with the Regulations.  As these requirements are ongoing it would be advisable to keep a copy of the manufacturer’s instructions (as this is recognised as proof of the insulations R-Value).
As stated above, these requirements are technical in nature.  Accordingly any landlord is advised to obtain appropriate legal advice and advice from an appropriately qualified professional installer of insulation (in respect to the insulation requirements).

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