Changes to smoke and carbon monoxide alarm regulations came into force earlier this month. Laura Noble from our residential property team looks at what they include.
From 1 October 2022, further changes to smoke and carbon monoxide alarm regulations came into force which affects landlords and their rental properties.
New laws mean that:
- A carbon monoxide alarm must be fitted in any room of a property, used for living accommodation, which contains a fixed combustion appliance. For example, anything that burns fuel to generate heat (not including gas cookers).
- Installing a carbon monoxide alarm will be mandatory when fitting any heating appliance (not including gas cookers) to comply with Building Regulations.
- And if informed that a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm is faulty, they must be repaired or replaced. Failure to comply with a remedial notice can lead to a fine of up to £5,000 imposed by the local authority.
These new laws are in addition to the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations which were brought in in 2015, as a further safety measure in rental properties.
They state that landlords are responsible for making sure that a smoke alarm is fitted on every floor of their properties where a room is used wholly, or partly, as living accommodation.
The 2015 regulations also say that a carbon monoxide alarm must be present in any room where solid fuel is burnt, for example, wood, coal, and biomass. This did not include LPG, gas, or oil fuelled appliances.
It is the landlord’s responsibility to make sure these alarms are in working order at the start of each tenancy and it is accepted as good practice to test these in front of the tenants and record the results.
Under the new changes, landlords will continue to be responsible for repairing and/or replacing any faulty alarms. In the first instance, if a tenant discovers that their alarms are not working during their tenancy, they should try replacing the batteries. If, after replacing the batteries, the alarms still do not work, they should report it to their landlord.
If a landlord is made aware that their properties do not comply with the regulations, they should take appropriate remedial action as soon as practicable.
Failure to comply with the regulations may mean that a remedial notice is issued by the local authority and failure to comply with this could result in a fine of up to £5,000 per breach.
If the landlord is the local authority, they cannot enforce the regulations on themselves, but instead can be challenged by judicial review. In their capacity as social landlords, local authorities are overseen by the Regulator of Social Housing.
In properties where they are occupied by tenants with disabilities, landlords are required to make an informed decision and choose the best alarm for their tenants’ circumstances. For example, alarms which alert tenants to the presence of smoke and/or carbon monoxide by vibrations or flashing lights for those who suffer with hearing issues.
Where this is concerned, landlords are reminded of their duties under the Equality Act 2010.
The regulations define these as devices used to detect the presence of smoke and alert the occupier (usually, but not always) through an audible sound.
The regulations do not specify the type of alarm that can be used – these can be either mains or battery powered. The regulations also do not state where the alarms need to be placed other than that one alarm should be installed on every storey of the property which is used as living accommodation.
It is generally accepted by manufacturers that alarms should be fixed to ceilings in areas with good air circulation, such as halls or landings.
Carbon monoxide alarms
These are defined by the regulations as devices used to detect the presence of carbon monoxide gas and alert the occupier to the presence of the gas (usually, but not always) via an audible sound alert.
Again, the regulations do not state where carbon monoxide alarms should be placed, but simply state that they need to be installed in every room used as living accommodation containing a fixed combustion appliance.
Best practice would be to follow manufacturers’ guidelines when installing carbon monoxide alarms, generally placed at head height, for example on a shelf or mantel, approximately 1-3 metres away from the potential source of carbon monoxide.
What type of property and tenancy do the regulations apply?
The regulations apply to privately rented properties and to providers of social housing and to all tenancies, apart from those specifically excluded from the regulations, which include but are not limited to:
- Accommodation shared with a landlord/ landlord’s family
- Student halls of residence
- Hotels and refuges
- And care homes, hospitals, hospices, and other accommodation relating to health care provision.
The regulations will also apply to unlicensed houses in multiple occupational. Licensed houses in multiple occupation are subject to different requirements detailed in the Housing Act 2004.
As the regulations came into law on the 27 June 2022, landlords had until the beginning of October this year to comply with the new requirements.
If, as a landlord, your tenant will not allow you access to your property to comply with the regulations, you are required to show that you have taken all ‘reasonable steps’ to gain access to the property, such as writing to the tenants to explain the legal situation and that the visit or works are for their own safety.
For more information on this subject and all landlord matters, speak to our residential property team by calling 0800 328 3282 or by using our contact us facility.