The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act received royal assent on 2 June 2016.

The Amendment Act means that every rental property will have to be insulated by July 2019 and as of the 1st July this year, every new tenancy agreement must state the level of insulation in the property, underfloor and in the walls and ceiling. This means that when a tenant gives notice or a fixed term tenancy ends, somebody has to assess every property for insulation and give an accurate description as failure to do so will be an unlawful act. Landlords must meet the requirements and cost for smoke alarms and insulation.

The responsibility for smoke alarms is another significant change in the Act. As of the 1st of July this year, every rental property has to have working smoke alarms installed in specific locations in the property. Long life (10 year) photoelectric alarms are required to be installed where there are no existing alarms. Where there are existing alarms, these are to be replaced by long life photoelectric alarms at the end of the life of the existing alarm. Hardwired smoke alarms are also acceptable.

Landlords will be responsible for correctly installing smoke alarms and making sure that they are working when the tenant moves in.

Tenants will be responsible for changing smoke alarm batteries during their tenancy, and are already required to report defective smoke alarms to the landlord.

Where a tenant considers that a property does not meet the insulation or smoke alarm standards, they will be able to use existing processes to take their concerns to the Tenancy Tribunal. If the Tribunal agrees, then it can make a 'work order' requiring the landlord to make specified improvements.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.