Fire safety tips for landlords

Protecting your investment from a fire when you aren’t around isn’t easy but there are some simple steps you can take to minimise the chance of it happening, and any damage if it does occur.

It's always important to think about fire safety in the home - especially leading up to winter when people start using heaters and fireplaces again.

Smoke alarms

The New Zealand Fire Service reports that at 80% of the fatal fires they attend, smoke alarms were not installed or working. That means a correctly installed alarm is your first line of defense when it comes to protecting your investment and the lives of people in it.

All rental properties must have smoke alarms installed. Landlords and tenants both have responsibilities to make sure they remain working:

Landlord responsibilities

  • Landlords are responsible for making sure smoke alarms are in good working order and meet the Residential Tenancies Act requirements.
  • They are also responsible for ensuring they have working batteries at the start of each new tenancy.

Tenant responsibilities

  • Tenants must replace expired batteries.
  • Tenants must also alert their landlord or property manager if they detect any problems with the smoke alarm, as soon as possible.
  • Tenants must not damage, remove or disconnect the alarm.

Smoke alarm requirements

  • Where there are currently no smoke alarms, long-life photoelectric type smoke alarms will need to be installed.
  • If a property has existing smoke alarms that are not long-life photoelectric, landlords will not need to replace them immediately providing they are in working order. When they do need replacing they should be replaced with long-life photoelectric alarms.
  • Placement: The Residential Tenancies Act requires a minimum of one working smoke alarm within 3 metres of each bedroom door or every room where a person sleeps. In a multi-storey or multi-level home (including split-levels), there must be a smoke alarm on each level or storey. 
  • The same requirements apply to boarding houses.
  • A working smoke alarm is also required in caravans and self-contained sleep-outs.

For more information, contact your property manager.

Fire extinguishers

  • Keep a fire extinguisher somewhere visible and easy to locate, but out of reach of children.
  • Inform tenants of its location at the start of a tenancy.
  • Regularly check your extinguisher works and get it serviced according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Fireplaces and heating

  • Get a professional to clean your fireplace at the end of autumn or as the weather starts to cool.
  • Have a fireguard and ensure tenants use it on fireplaces.
  • Ask tenants to ensure the fire is out before going to bed.
  • Regularly have all of your heat sources and gas lines checked, and change filters.


  • Ensure that leads on any appliances you provide are in good condition and not frayed.
  • Encourage tenants to let you know if they notice any faulty wiring or smell a gas leak.
  • Build a relationship with a qualified electrician who can make any repairs, or ask your property manager to organise this for you.

For more fire safety tips visit the New Zealand Fire Service website.

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