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Ways to make your rental home safer

Take steps now to make your rental home safer so you and your family get back on track more quickly if a natural disaster happens. Find out more about private insurance for your contents, securing furniture and any maintenance required.

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Talking to your landlord or property manager

Following 2021 changes to the Residential Tenancies Act your landlord should not refuse any changes that are minor, including steps such as securing tall and heavy furniture and hanging items safely.

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You should apply in writing to your landlord about any quake safe steps you’d like to take in your rental and expect a response to your request within 21 days.

At the end of your tenancy you may need to remove any fittings that have been installed (unless landlord agrees they can stay). You will need to return the property to substantially the same condition it was in before the minor changes were made.

More information on Minor Changes to Property can be found on the Tenancy Services website.

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Secure tall and heavy furniture

Tall and heavy furniture like bookshelves, drawers, TVs and whiteware can cause damage and injury if they fall during an earthquake.

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Fastening furniture and items to walls and adding latches to cupboard doors to stop them from flying open will help reduce the risk of damage and make your rental safer. Remember to advise your landlord or property manager of the steps you are undertaking and whether you will need to remove the fastenings and repair the walls at the end of your tenancy.

Remember to secure valuables with Blu Tack or quake wax and non-slip mats too.

Find out more about securing tall or heavy furniture.

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Secure hot water cylinders

If your rental has a hot water cylinder, check that it’s secured with straps and timber blocks at the floor and against the walls.

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Taking these steps will reduce the chance of water damage in the event of a natural disaster – not just to your possessions but also to the property itself. If it’s not secured, ask your landlord or property manager to do this, or offer to secure it yourself. This is usually a straightforward process, with kits available from local hardware stores.

Find out more about securing hot water cylinders

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Make sure your rental is strong

Find out what to check for when looking at how well your rental might stand up in a natural disaster.

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How well buildings perform depends on their design, construction and maintenance:

Talk to your landlord or property manager about any concerns you may have. You can also contact us to see what information is available (for example, historical records, previous claims) on a property. Providing this information can take up to 20 working days.

If you have talked with your landlord or property manager and still have concerns that possible issues with your rental property aren’t being addressed, the Tenancy Services website has information about dealing with disputes

Make sure you also know how to turn off gas, water and electricity before you have to do it in an emergency.

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Insure your contents

Make sure you have sufficient private insurance to cover the cost of damage to or loss of your possessions as these are not covered through EQCover.

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Key things to check:

  • Make sure you know what your private insurer covers, as well as what they won’t cover (these are known as exclusions).
  • Check that you’ll have enough private insurance cover to replace your contents after a natural disaster, and review this regularly so that it keeps pace with any change in the value of your contents.
  • Can you find your insurance documents? These include the policy wording as well as your policy schedule. When a disaster strikes you’ll want to be able to access these documents easily. Store hard copies in a safe place and/or upload a copy to the cloud.

What to check with your rental

  • Make sure you have private contents insurance and review your level of cover regularly.
  • Secure tall furniture and hot water cylinders.
  • Know what factors make some properties more at risk of damage and discuss any major concerns with your landlord or property manager.

Translated material

Te Reo Māori
Gagana Samoa