16 August 2017

An Auckland boarding house operator has been fined $1,500 by the Tenancy Tribunal for failing to meet mandatory smoke alarm requirements after a box of unused smoke alarms was found under a Titirangi boarding house following a fire.

The landlord has also been banned from committing further breaches of the Residential Tenancies Act, which would result in charges being laid in the District Court.

The Tenancy Compliance and Investigations Team (TCIT) successfully brought the case to the Tenancy Tribunal following a complaint from a member of the public that the boarding house didn’t have smoke alarms.

“Smoke alarms have been compulsory in all rentals from 1 July 2016 following changes to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA),” says National Manager Tenancy Compliance and Investigation Steve Watson.

“Smoke alarms must be installed on every level of a rental property, either in each bedroom or within three metres of every bedroom door.”

Following the complaint, TCIT contacted the landlord Ms Silvija Sumich to seek confirmation smoke alarms were installed in all rental properties she owned. Ms Sumich responded in October 2016 with proof of purchase of 20 smoke alarms, which she said were scheduled to be installed the following week.

In January this year, a fire broke out in the property and the New Zealand Fire Services attended. No one was injured in the fire.

“Following the fire, the New Zealand Fire Service found no smoke alarms correctly installed according to the RTA; one smoke alarm was found on a chair inside a bedroom, and a box of new smoke alarms were found outside under the patio.”

When questioned about the installation of the smoke alarms, Ms Sumich said she had given them to her father to install, but did not check the job was completed.

“It is unacceptable this landlord failed to meet her obligations. Ms Sumich, and in fact every landlord in New Zealand, has a legal and moral obligation to comply with tenancy laws, which are designed to save lives.

“Landlords are running a business, and have a responsibility to ensure their property meets all requirements under the RTA. This includes installing smoke alarms, having insulation statements for new tenancy agreements and installing insulation by July 2019,” says Mr Watson.

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