CO Alarm Legislation for Landlords

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The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 require landlords to ensure alarms are installed in their properties with effect from 1 October 2015. After that the landlord (or someone acting on behalf of the landlord) must ensure all alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.

Do I need to install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in my rental?

First things first, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are non-negotiable for any household or premises. It’s near-impossible to monitor 24/7 for fire and air poisoning unless you have an alarm. And with people at least four times as likely to die in a fire where no smoke alarm was fitted and working, it’s simply not worth it to go rogue on the regulations.

If your rental is not up to scratch, here’s what you need to do:

The bare minimum

Currently, private rented sector landlords must have at least one smoke alarm fitted on every storey of the rental property which is used as living accommodation. Carbon monoxide detector regulations are also in force, and you must also have a carbon monoxide alarm in any room used as living accommodation if it contains a solid fuel burning appliance. The examples used are usually a coal fire or wood-burning stove and remember, heat detectors are not an acceptable replacement for fire alarms.

From there, you’re also legally required to ensure all your alarms are in working order on the first day of any new tenancy. This is defined by law as the date stipulated in the tenancy agreement, even if the tenant moves in at a later date.

Check your alarms

It’s the first day of the new tenancy and you’ve tested all your alarms. But who’s responsible from here, for the duration of the tenancy?

The guidelines state that tenants should take responsibility for their own safety from this point, testing the alarms regularly. You could leave it at that, but remember, it’s your property at risk. It’s a good idea to mark dates in the calendar to test the alarms, and let your tenants know you’ll be checking in.

The guidance recommends monthly tests for smoke alarms, and depending on the alarm type, the maximum work required will be to change the battery.

Do I need to install alarms for my existing tenants?

Yes. All properties need to be compliant, but in terms of checking the alarms are working, you’ll need to see to this at the start of each new tenancy. Gov.uk define a ‘new tenancy’ as ‘a tenancy agreement that begins on or after 1 October 2015 and is not a renewal of a previous tenancy agreement.’

What type of alarm do I need to fit?

There are no hard-and-fast rules for this, so you could go for something basic. Remember though, fire and carbon monoxide are potentially devastating, so do some research and don’t cut corners.

Where should I put my alarms?

Again, the regulations don’t say exactly where your alarms should be fitted, but there are some stipulations.

You’ll need one smoke alarm on every storey and a carbon monoxide alarm in every room that contains a solid fuel-burning appliance, but from there it’s best to check with the alarm manufacturer, or see what it says on the packaging.

Gov.uk advises that smoke alarms should be fixed to the ceiling in a ‘circulation space’, e.g. a hall or landing. Carbon monoxide alarms should be fitted at head height, on a wall or shelf, about one to three metres from the fuel-burning appliance.

How can I prove I’ve checked the alarms?

The guidance suggests a check of the inventory on the first day of the tenancy, by the landlord, which asks the tenant to sign and confirm that the alarms have been tested and that they’re happy everything is in working order.

Will I be fined if I don’t fit an alarm for my tenants?

Your local authority is in charge of enforcing the requirements and would usually start by issuing a remedial notice, requiring you to fit and/or test your alarms within 28 days. For landlords failing to comply, the local authority must arrange for the alarms to be fitted and tested themselves, if the occupier allows access.

Either way, you can expect a fine of up to £5,000 for not complying.

Whether it’s a spot check from the council or someone reporting you to the authorities, dodging the requirement is simply not worth it.

CAVIUS manufacture a wide range of fire safety products, including smoke and heat alarms. For more information on our safety products, click here.

To speak to our team, call: 0330 999 0019