If you live in a rental that doesn’t have any smoke alarms, your landlord is now breaking the law.

Changes to tenancy regulations that came into effect today require a minimum of one smoke alarm within 3m of every bedroom door. Landlords are in charge of fitting the alarms and making sure they’re working at the beginning of each new tenancy, but it’s the tenant’s responsibility to replace the battery if it goes flat.

The new rules require long-life photoelectric alarms to be installed where there are no existing alarms, or where existing alarms are to be replaced. Our testing shows photoelectric alarms are far better than the other main technology – ionization alarms – at detecting smouldering fires.

But the new rules don’t just cover smoke alarms. From today, all new tenancy agreements in rentals covered by the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) need to include a statement of the extent and safety of insulation. And the installation of “electrically conductive insulation products”, e.g. foil insulation underfloor, is now banned. Foil insulation is dangerous for amateurs to install as it can become live if it touches exposed electrical wiring. This has been blamed for a number of deaths here and overseas.

The changes also require that:

  • Any replacement or installation of insulation in a rental meet the required standard

  • All social houses where the tenant pays an Income Related Rent has underfloor and ceiling insulation meeting the required standard where it can be practically installed.

In three years’ time, all rental properties must have underfloor and ceiling insulation where it can be practically installed.

If your landlord hasn’t come to the party with the new smoke alarms or insulation rules, we recommend getting in touch with them and reminding them of their new obligations under the RTA. Failing that, get in touch with Tenancy Services on 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).