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There have been a raft of new requirements put in place over the last few months that will impact on you if you own a residential rental property in New Zealand.

Smoke Alarms – Residential rental properties are now required to have a smoke alarm positioned within 3 metres of the main entrance of any sleeping space. This rule came into effect from 1 July 2016.

The smoke alarms are required to be fully compliant with no faults, defects or damage and they also need to meet a number of specified standards. One of those standards includes the need for smoke alarms to have compliant batteries.

The only responsibility that has been placed on the tenant is that they must ensure batteries are replaced.

What it does mean is that when you let out your rental property to a new tenant, it is your responsibility to ensure the battery is fully functional at the start of the tenancy.

Installation – There is an another change that also came into effect on 1 July 2016 with regard to income-related tenancies. Examples of this are Housing New Zealand and community housing.

If you are currently renting or leasing your property to housing New Zealand there is now a requirement to have both ceiling and underfloor installation that meets particular standards.

The installation must cover the entire ceiling and underfloor areas.

Landlords do have the ability to apply for an exemption for installation if you intend to either demolish or substantially rebuild the rental property dwelling within the next 12 months.

Building Report – Although no new rules have come into effect with regard to building reports on residential rental properties, it is probably timely to make the following comments.

If you sell your rental property and the buyer relies on a building inspection report, it must be current and up-to-date.

It would be prudent to ensure that the builder has professional indemnity insurance.

Your building report may not include everything so you really need to check on what is covered and, more importantly, what is not. It would pay to check on whether the building report included the weather-tightness of your rental property.

Check if there was any remedial work undertaken after the date of the inspection report.

From a legal perspective, the contract is between the building inspector and the vendor. That means that, in general terms, the builder (and their insurance company) may not be accountable to the aggrieved party and you may have to foot the bill, so have a check on that as well!

The information in this article is indicative of NZ tax rules and changes and not intended to be complete for all intents or purposes and does not constitute advice. It is recommended that you obtain professional advice, suited to your particular circumstances, from us before acting on anything you read.