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New rules for rental smoke alarms

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 19/04/2016
Smoke alarm © Getty Images Smoke alarm

Smoke alarms will be compulsory in rental properties from July 1 and cabinet has signed off the rules around them.

Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith says 120,000 homes will be safer when the alarms have been fitted.

"The smoke alarm requirements will save lives, as 75 per cent of fatalities occur in properties where there is no working alarm," he said.

"We are requiring new installations and replacements to be the long-life photoelectric alarms."

The bill that makes the alarms mandatory, the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill, is going through parliament and also deals with compulsory insulation in rental homes.

Insulation will be installed progressively with a July 1, 2019 deadline.

Dr Smith says conductive foil insulation won't be allowed because it can become live when it's accidentally stapled to wiring.

And rental homes with insulation which is in reasonable condition but isn't up to current standards won't be upgraded.

"The benefits of insulation hugely exceed the costs where there is no insulation present," he said.

"But the benefits are marginal for upgrading insulation to the latest standard."

Labour's housing spokesman, Phil Twyford, says that's not good enough.

"The housing minister is legislating for old, inferior insulation standards," he said.

The Property Investors' Federation says it's pleased with the new rules, and it isn't questioning the $4000 penalty for not complying with them.

But executive office Andrew King says if landlords are to face strong penalties "perhaps it would have been fair to apply penalties to tenants who retaliate against landlords by intentionally damaging their rental property or not paying rent".

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