A lesson for landlords: What can happen when you don’t install smoke alarms in a rental property
In autumn 2018, the Tenancy Tribunal issued a significant fine against a landlord who failed to install smoke alarms – with the added danger of a non-compliant gas supply, and no statement on insulation.
Following complaints of a gas leak at one of the Christchurch boarding houses operated by Lina Liu, the gas supply to the property was found to be non-compliant. When the Tenancy Compliance team looked into the landlord’s operations, it was established that the landlord failed to have working smoke alarms at both of her properties. Also, there were no written tenancy agreements with an insulation statement in place. The result was prosecution.
Lina Liu, who owned two boarding houses, was taken to the Tenancy Tribunal by MBIE’s Tenancy Compliance and Investigations Team because she had failed to meet her responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA).
The Tenancy Tribunal Ordered Ms Liu to pay $4000 in exemplary damages, plus $100.00 for failing to provide a written statement that adequately described the levels of insulation.
The lessons for landlords to learn:
The Christchurch example – what happens when a landlord doesn’t offer smoke alarms
As National Manager Tenancy Compliance and Investigations Steve Watson put it, “Insulation statements were introduced to give tenants certainty and choice when it comes to choosing which rental house to live in. The lack of understanding in this area is something we see a lot in our work – it is great to see the Tribunal support the importance of these statements.”
The tenancy inspection team subsequently returned to the property to ensure the gas work has been fixed so that future tenants can safely live in the rental.
The Tribunal issued a restraining order for two years, meaning if Ms Liu is found to breach the law again in that period, she could face criminal charges.
Can’t my Rentals.co Northland property manager handle the smoke alarms?
No, sorry. The reasons smoke alarm testing is outside your property manager’s scope of work are:
Unfortunately smoke alarm testing is not a service your property manager can take care of - please get yours tested by professionals.
We prefer you agree for Smoke Alarm Testing Services (SATS) to test your smoke alarms by ticking the box on the following page and returning to us, so your property can comply with the Residential Tenancies Act Smoke Alarms and Insulation Regulations 2016
Where smoke alarms must be fitted:
All new smoke alarms must be photoelectric and have a battery life of at least eight years, or be hard-wired
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