Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Alarms: Requirements For Rental Properties

over 1 year ago
Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Alarms: Requirements For Rental Properties

To comply with The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015, private landlords in England must ensure that they are fulfilling their obligations regarding installing and testing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in rental properties. Failure to meet their requirements can lead to a heavy penalty, including imprisonment in severe cases.

A tenant survey by property management software company Plentific found that nearly half (46%) of tenants in private rented accommodation in the UK believed their gas appliances hadn’t been checked within the past year.

On 1 October 2022, new smoke and carbon monoxide alarm rules came into force, with extended requirements for rental properties. Private landlords now have additional responsibilities regarding installing, testing and repairing or replacing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in rental properties.

Smoke Alarm Regulations In Rental Properties

Landlords must have a working smoke alarm on each floor of their property (at least it must be working when new tenants move in). After that, it’s up to the tenant to ensure there is a working battery in the alarms. However, if a tenant reports that an alarm is faulty, the landlord must arrange for it to be fixed or replaced.

The good news is that it is possible to get free smoke alarms from your local fire and rescue service (the government has already funded these). And, if you ask nicely, they may even fit them for you. So, really, there is no excuse for not fitting them.

Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations In Rental Properties

The carbon monoxide alarm rules state that a carbon monoxide detector must be in any room with a solid-fuel burning fire. It is the responsibility of landlords to ensure that it must be working at the start of a new tenancy.

From 1 October 2022, the legislation has been extended to include the requirement for a carbon monoxide detector to be installed in any room with a fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers).

In the Plentific survey, 51% of all renters did not have a carbon monoxide mandatory alarm; again, this was higher for private (56%) than social (44%) tenants.

Smoke alarms in Rental Properties

Do I Need To Install Alarms For Existing Tenants?

All private tenants should be protected from harm by landlords following the smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector regulations. So, yes, if there isn’t already a smoke alarm on every floor and carbon monoxide detectors in rooms with a solid fuel burner or fixed combustion appliance, then this must be done immediately. Examples of solid fuel burning appliances include wood-burning stoves or coal fires, while the most common types of fixed combustion appliances are boilers, warm air heaters and water heaters.

What Type Of Alarm Do I Need To Fit In My Rental Property?

There is no specific type of alarm you need to fit, but it’s best to go for the most effective since it’s your tenants’ lives and your property at stake. Landlords can choose between mains-powered or battery-powered alarms. Battery powered alarms should have ‘sealed for life’ batteries instead of replaceable ones, as recommended on the government website. The alarm should also be compliant with British Standards BS 5839-6.

Fitting Your Smoke Alarms And Carbon Monoxide Detector

Ideally, smoke alarms in rental properties should be attached to the ceiling in an area where there is a lot of movement, such as a hallway. For a carbon monoxide detector, the ideal space is up to three metres away from the fire or fixed combustion appliance and at head height.

Smoke Alarms And Carbon Monoxide Detector

What If I Can’t Access My Rental Property?

If your tenant won’t allow you to enter the rental property to test the smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector, then you will have to write to them (and keep a copy of this email or written letter). Explain to your tenant that it is a legal requirement and that fire safety building regulations are in place to protect their own health. If this doesn’t work and you are approached by the council (via a spot check) you will have the paper trail to prove you have attempted to comply with the smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector regulations. It is important you do this since you could potentially face penalties for non-compliance.

What Is The Penalty For Not Fitting Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Alarms In My Rental Property?

Non-compliance with the regulations could result in a fine of up to £5,000 and imprisonment in severe cases. In the first instance, the local authority officer will issue a remedial notice. This gives you 28 days to get up to date with the government’s smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector regulations to avoid a fine. If the requirements are not achieved within that time, then the council will go ahead and fit them – and bill you for it. This is provided they can get access from your tenant.

Can I Appeal A Penalty Charge?

It is possible to appeal against a charge. This will have to be done in writing and sent to the local authority who issued the fine in the first place.

If this doesn’t work, then you can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal. At this point, you can’t be fined until the tribunal rules on your application. It can either confirm, quash or vary the fine imposed on you. However, it can’t increase the amount of the penalty charge.

You can find the grounds for Appeal under Regulation 11 of the Act. These include the fact the penalty notice was issued wrongly or that the amount of the fine is unreasonable. Or, it can be that you find another aspect of the penalty unreasonable and wish to lodge this.

Checking The Alarms In Your Rental Property

Under the regulations, the landlord must ensure that all alarms are in working order at the start of a new tenancy. The checks for testing alarms should be included in the inventory that the tenant signs to provide evidence that the alarms have been checked and other appliances are working. After the tenant has moved into the property, it is their responsibility to check the alarms are working (it is recommended to test them at least every month) and to report any faults or issues.

*all information is as accurate as possible at the time of writing

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