A Guide for Landlords: Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors; Is It the Landlords Legal Responsibility?

In October 2015, new regulations were introduced to the private rented sector requiring every landlord to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on each floor of a property. The landlord must evidence that all alarms are tested and working at the start of each tenancy. Fines for non-compliance are a maximum of £5,000 for each failure. No Letting Go will ensure you are compliant. We will check that your alarms are in the correct location, are functioning at move in and install new ones where necessary. All No Letting Go reports have a smoke and carbon monoxide safety section that will guarantee you meet the regulations.

Landlord Responsibilities Outside of England

Since 1st December 2015, Landlords across Scotland must provide carbon monoxide (CO) alarms with integrated long life batteries within ALL rooms hosting a combustion appliance. Even if a CO detector with standard, removable batteries has been supplied previously, it must be exchanged for, or supplemented by a unit with a sealed long life battery to meet the regulations.

A smoke alarm must be installed in the room most frequently used for general daytime living purposes and one installed in every circulation space on each storey such as hallways and landings. A heat alarm must be installed in every kitchen, and all alarms should be ceiling mounted and interlinked.

Again No Letting Go will report this within our inventory at the start of a tenancy to ensure landlords remain compliant.

Different Types of Alarms

There are mainly four types of smoke alarm currently on the market – ionisation, optical (also described as photo electronic), heat and combined.

Ionisation: These are low cost to purchase. They are very sensitive to small particles of smoke produced by fast flaming fires, such as paper and wood, and will detect this type of fire before the smoke gets too thick.

Optical: These are more expensive but more effective at detecting larger particles of smoke produced by slow-burning fires, such as smouldering foam-filled upholstery and overheated PVC wiring.

Heat Alarms: They detect the increase in temperature from a fire and are insensitive to smoke. They can therefore be installed in kitchens. They only cover a relatively small area of a room, so potentially several heat alarms need to be installed in a large kitchen.

Combined Optical Smoke and Heat Alarms: Combinations of optical and heat alarms in one unit to reduce false alarms while increasing the speed of detection.

Combined Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms: Alarms that combine both smoke detection and CO alarm protection in one ceiling-mounted unit. This reduces costs and takes up less of your living space.

Where Should They be Located?

In general, smoke alarms should be fixed to the ceiling in a circulation space, ie a hall or a landing, and carbon monoxide alarms should be positioned at head height, either on a wall or shelf, approximately 1 to 3 metres away from a potential source of carbon monoxide.

How Often Should You Check the Alarm and Who is Responsible?

The landlord is responsible for checking all smoke and co alarms are in the correct locations and working at the start of the tenancy.  A good inventory company will detail the location and whether they are in working order within the inventory at the start of the tenancy. No Letting Go carry spare smoke alarms and will replace a non working alarm where required.  It is then the responsibility of the tenant to ensure they remain in working order throughout the tenancy.  It is advisable to check them once a month.

Should I Know of Any Exemptions?

The regulations are not aimed at the following scenarios:-

Owner occupied properties, so if the occupier shares the accommodation with the landlord or landlord’s family then these regulations will not apply.

A landlord is considered to share accommodation with the tenant if they share an amenity such as a kitchen or living room.

Landlords granting a right of occupation for a term of 7 years or more.

Landlords who are registered providers of social housing.

Responsibility for the enforcement of the legislation lies with the relevant local housing authority, and breaches of the guidance can be punished by a fine of up to £5000.

Social Housing

The smoke and carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 do not apply to social housing landlords.

The key piece of legislation in England and Wales is the Housing Act 2004, which identifies 29 categories of potential hazards, one of which is fire.  The regulatory reform (fire safety) order 2005 (FSO) applies to the common parts of multi-occupied residential housing and requires landlords to carry out a fire risk assessment, and then take appropriate measures.

House of Multiple Occupancy

For a 1 or 2 story HMO with an individual floor area of no more than 200sqm – a fire risk assessment is required to identify an appropriate main powered interconnected smoke alarm system.  CO alarms must be present in all high risk rooms.

For HMO’s 3 stories or higher – a risk assessment is required to identify a fire alarm system with an appropriate panel.  CO alarms must be present in all high risk rooms.

What Will Happen If I Don’t Comply?

Landlords must check the alarms are working at the start of every new tenancy with potential penalties of up to £5,000 if they don’t comply.

Tenants are required to check the alarms are in working order and notify the landlord if they identify any problems.

The responsibility for the enforcement of the smoke and co alarm legislation lies with the relevant local housing authority.

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