Following a three-month consultation period, the UK Government announced its proposals on 23 November 2021 to extend the rules for domestic smoke and carbon monoxide alarms within all rented accommodation in England.

 

The key changes are:

• smoke alarms will be mandatory in all social rented homes
• carbon monoxide alarms will be mandatory in rooms with a fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers) in both private and social rented homes.
• carbon monoxide alarms will also be mandatory upon installation of any heating appliance (excluding gas cookers) in all tenures through building regulations
• landlords will be expected to repair or replace alarms once informed that they are faulty
• amendments to the statutory guidance (Approved Document J) supporting Part J of the Building Regulations to ensure that required alarms meet relevant standards.

 

More than 50 people died of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in 2019 across England and Wales, with more than a third of those deaths taking place at home. Additionally each year over 4,000 people are admitted to hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning that could lead to brain damage and strokes and the Government’s intention is to avoid these needless deaths and often life-changing illnesses.

Current Building Regulations only require a carbon monoxide alarm to be fitted in residential properties where a solid fuel burning appliance is fitted. Solid fuel is classed as coal or wood and typically these appliances are fireplaces with an open flue, wood burning stoves or older style, coal burning Aga cookers.

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 currently also require all properties in the private rented sector to have a carbon monoxide alarm situated in any room with a Solid Fuel burning appliance.

The new regulations which are expected to be introduced in 2022 as soon as parliamentary time allows, will require both landlords and house builders to install carbon monoxide alarms in any room of a property that has a fixed combustion appliance. Combustion fuels are gas, oil, coal and wood. Typically these appliances include boilers, warm air heaters, fires and water heaters (excluding gas cookers).

Although gas cookers are exempt from the proposed legislation changes, it is still recommended within the British Standards that these appliances are also covered.

 

So what impact are the new regulations expected to have upon the BTR sector?

 

For properties which already have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted under the Building Regulations, it is not expected that the regulations will have a huge impact, unless the landlord/freeholder undertakes refurbishments which include the installation of a fixed combustion appliance.

Nevertheless, older properties built prior October 2010 are unlikely to have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted and therefore Operators are advised to review these portfolios as a priority. It is not yet clear what timescale the Government will allow for landlords to comply once the new regulations are enacted. However, many of us will recall that when the Guidance Notes were published for The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 on the 4 September 2015, landlords and their agents had less than one month to ensure that all rented properties had the required alarms installed by 1 October 2015, with no grace period after this date!

Some will also remember the clamour to buy smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and the shelves being wiped clear in DIY stores including B&Q and Homebase and supplies also being difficult to secure via online suppliers.

With such history in mind, No Letting Go believe it is prudent for the BTR sector to ensure that all older properties currently let where fixed combustion appliances installed, are fitted as soon as feasible with either a battery operated or fixed wired carbon monoxide alarms. Operators will also need to consider appropriate documentation to evidence compliance and one of the most practical ways to demonstrate this is for the Operator to draw up a memorandum to the Inventory report including a photograph of the newly installed carbon monoxide alarm which is then sent to the resident and request their written confirmation of receipt by email.

Currently the legislation requires landlords to prove that the required smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are tested and evidenced as working on the start date of the tenancy agreement, regardless of the date that the resident actually moves into the property.

It is acknowledged that it is often not practical to expect landlords or their agents/contractors to undertake the testing on the first day of the tenancy and Propertymark have lobbied the Government to amend the rules so that the testing can be undertaken prior to the commencement of the tenancy. However at present it is not known whether the new regulations will include this suggested amendment.

Having been established for 16 years with an enviable reputation for quality reporting, professionalism and reliability, No Letting Go are ideally positioned to undertake the assessment of portfolios to establish whether there is a requirement for a carbon monoxide alarm to be installed and if so, our operatives will supply the appropriate alarm/s, test for sound and complete a report to include date stamped photographs to confirm compliance.

No Letting Go offer national coverage across the UK including Scotland and Wales with over 300 operatives, all fully trained, qualified and insured.

If you would like to get in contact with us please call 01322 555128 or email us info@nolettinggo.co.uk.

Please see map below for UK regulations.

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