Working smoke alarms save lives. There has been a big push to get people to install them in their homes and to ensure that the batteries are changed regularly. New regulations have been passed mandating when smoke alarms and insulation must be provided in various types of tenanted accommodation.

Smoke Alarms

From 1 July 2016 all tenancies must have smoke alarms in each sleeping space or within 3 metres of the main entrance of any sleeping space. Also there must be at least one smoke alarm on each storey of the building. 

The alarms must be in full working order with no faults, defects or damage.  They must be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and not past their replacement date.  Unless the alarms are hard wired they must state their replacement date.

Alarms must be the photo-electric type, meet specified standards and must contain compliant batteries.  Hard wired alarms must be connected to the electrical supply.

Tenants are responsible for replacing the batteries in residences. When a new tenant comes in to a property, the landlord must ensure the battery is current at the start of the tenancy.

Tenants are also responsible for replacing the alarm battery in Boarding Houses if the alarm is in their bedroom. Alarms outside of bedrooms must be replaced by the Boarding House landlord.

Despite alarms being lifesaving, there are no rules requiring them in privately-owned and occupied homes. Some alarms are available now that have a 10 year life so there is no changing of batteries. The whole alarm is replaced at the end of the 10 years. This avoids the problem of forgetting to replace batteries every year.


For income-related rent tenancies e.g. Housing NZ and community housing the new insulation regulations take effect from 1 July 2016.  For other tenancies the regulations come in on 1 July 2019.

From those dates tenancies must have ceiling and under floor insulation that meets certain standards.

The insulation has to be in the ceiling and under the floor unless there is another habitable space above the ceiling or below the floor.

The insulation has to cover the entire ceiling or underfloor unless there is equipment in those spaces that needs a clearance from the insulation.

The regulations cover the reasonable condition of the insulation e.g. is it compromised by damage or deterioration. If the insulation is not compliant then it must be replaced or upgraded.

An exemption exists if the landlord intends to demolish or substantially rebuild the tenancy within 12 months and has applied for a resource consent or building consent and this has not been rejected.  The exemption will lapse after 12 months or if the building consent lapses or is withdrawn.

Tenants can ask to see evidence of the building or resource consent and the exemption will expire if the proof is not supplied within 10 working days of the request.