“All the landlords we represent will totally agree with the need to keep children injury-free” said Andrew King, Executive Officer of the NZ Property Investors’ Federation (NZPIF), “but we question the fact that only one group of accommodation providers has been singled out for specific comment.”
Private rental accommodation has been identified as a particularly important target in a recent Policy Brief Keeping our children injury-free published by Growing Up in New Zealand.
The study said that 30% of tenant respondents didn't have a working smoke alarm.
The NZPIF accepts that smoke alarms should be present in all rental properties but tenants also need to accept a degree of responsibility in ensuring they remain in working condition. It is often the case that batteries and the alarms as well, have been removed by the tenants themselves. It is unlikely that making smoke alarms compulsory will actually save lives, unless there is a shared responsibility to ensure they remain working.
The study also found that 40% didn't have a way to keep children off the driveway or there was no fenced off play area. This percentage must include a large number of non-rental properties that don’t have fenced off driveways and play areas.
Any new regulations involving safety should not be confined to rental properties.
New regulations to improve safety for young children should apply to all homes in New Zealand. Many safety issues come down to individual responsibility and would not be prevented by different home environments.
Not all tenants have children, so making rules that affect all rental properties doesn't make sense. If a fenced driveway and play area is important to a tenant, then they are able to choose a rental property that meets this requirement.
Landlords cannot be held responsible for the actions of their tenants. A blanket warrant of fitness is an expensive cover all strategy that is likely to increase rental prices unnecessarily.