You are here

Residential Tenancies Act
24 August 2017

Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986

The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (“Act”) was amended last year which changes the obligations of landlords in respect to their rental properties. The main key changes affect your obligations in respect to smoke alarms, insulation and the tenancy abandonment process.

Smoke Alarms

From 1 July 2016, landlords must ensure there is at least one operational smoke alarm installed in the property. Smoke alarms must:

  • be properly installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
  • comply with the manufacturing standards and NZ Building Code NZ4512
  • be either in the bedroom or within 3 metres of a bedroom and on each storey or level of the house, even if no-one sleeps on that level

If you do not have a working smoke alarm installed, you can be penalised up to $4,000.

The tenant is responsible for changing the smoke alarm batteries and reporting faults. A tenant who does not comply also faces penalty.



An insulation statement must be included in all tenancy agreements signed from 1 July 2016. The statement must include:

  • whether or not there is insulation installed in the ceilings, floors or walls
  • details of the location, type and condition of insulation installed

If you cannot obtain any of this information, then the statement must instead describe what you have not been able to obtain, why you could not get that information and confirm that you have made all reasonable efforts to obtain the information.

All rental properties must have insulation installed by 1 July 2019 unless:

  • it is not practical to retrofit the property because of the physical design or construction of the property
  • within 12 months of commencing the tenancy, you intend to demolish or substantially rebuild the property
  • you buy the property and then immediately rent back to the previous owner


Tenancy Abandonment Process

There is now an expedited process for landlords to regain possession of a rental property where the property has been abandoned. An adjudicator is appointed to decide the case based on evidence that a landlord provides in their application. A landlord does not have to be present at the time the adjudicator considers the evidence to determine whether or not a property has been abandoned.

If you are looking to buy a rental property, you will need to ensure that the above requirements are met so that you are aware of any extra costs in relation to installing smoke alarms or insulation that might be involved in meeting your new obligations as a landlord.  


The above information is of a general nature only. You should contact our firm for advice relating to your specific circumstances.


Natalie Kong

About Natalie Kong

Natalie joined Saunders Robinson Brown in 2015. She is a member of our Property Team and assists clients with the sale and purchase of residential properties.

View all posts by Natalie Kong