Tenant safety and landlord liability

Tenant Safety and Landlord Liability

Vicki Hetherington News

With the recent focus on the Healthy Homes Standards, more stories are emerging in the media that other aspects of rental properties are dropping off the radar for busy landlords, already swamped by the looming healthy homes deadline. Tenant safety and landlord liability is important to understand. Questions regarding who’s responsibility the safety of a rental property is are complex and we are here to help you to navigate these for your rental investment.

Landlords and tenants are both responsible for keeping the property in good condition and regular inspections help to ensure your investment doesn’t fall into disrepair. Tenants have an obligation to inform their property manager or landlord of any damage to the property, or repairs that are needed, without delay. Click here for more information about tenants making changes to your property.

There are countless safety factors that are important to take into account when protecting tenant safety and landlord liability. Below is a round-up of the top five most common safety issues that we manage for our landlords…

1. Fire Alarms

The Residential Tenancies (Smoke Alarms and Insulation) Regulations 2016 legislation requires smoke alarms to be installed within 3 metres of each bedroom or in every room where a person sleeps; in each level of a multi-level home; in all rental and boarding homes, rental caravans and self-contained sleep-outs.  All fire alarms in all properties managed by Corporate Property Rentals are checked annually by SATS. If you need a copy of the invoice for your insurance provider, please get in touch. Tenants are responsible for replacing worn out batteries where required, although photo electric alarms should last about 8 years.

2. Fire Boxes & Chimneys

Cleaning the chimney is usually the landlord’s responsibility. The tenant is responsible for cleaning the ashes from the hearth. Landlords may wish to have the chimney swept and checked at least annually to make sure it’s safe and some insurance policies won’t cover the property unless this is done.

3. Ducting & Heat Pumps

We recommend servicing your heat pumps and ducting every couple of years to keep the air healthy for your tenants and avoid a nasty build-up of mould. It is the responsibility of the tenant to keep the property well ventilated, even in winter, and the Healthy Homes standards ensure that every room has adequate ventilation so there is no excuse!

Tenant safety in NZ

With the recent focus on the Healthy Homes Standards, more stories are emerging in the media that other aspects of rental properties are dropping off the radar for busy landlords, already swamped by the looming healthy homes deadline.

4. House Washing

Maintaining the exterior of a property is usually the landlord’s responsibility. House washing not only ensures that your investment avoids permanent damage from grime, but keeps it safely free from mould and healthy for your tenant. Slippery paths can be a dangerous hazard and usually would fall to the landlord to keep clean and slime-free. It is usually the tenant’s responsibility to keep the windows clean if they are accessible. This does not include windows for apartment buildings or multi-level houses. It’s a good idea to discuss this at the start of the tenancy and note what is agreed on the tenancy agreement.

5. Gardens & Paths

Gutters and downpipes should be cleared and cleaned every winter to avoid any unwanted surprises come the winter rain. Keeping an eye on large trees, culverts and drains is a good idea too, and this can be managed with regular inspections. The landlord should also make sure any trees are safe. Dangerous trees, shrubs or hedges might include trees damaged by storms or growing towards electrical lines.

At the end of the day, navigating the ever-changing world of property and tenancy law can be tricky. As your property managers, we are your go-to resource for any questions or concerns. Feeling unsure? Give Vicki a bell, we’re always happy to help.