Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Alarms – Update on new Regulations

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 have now been approved and will come into force on the 1 October 2015.

The requirements for private landlords are set out below:

  1. As of 1 October 2015 – ALL landlords of private residential rental properties will be required to install a smoke alarm on each storey of the premises on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation (this is said to include bathrooms and lavatories).
  2. As of 1 October 2015 ALL landlords of private residential rental properties will be required to install carbon monoxide alarms in any room of the premises which is used wholly or partly as living accommodation and which contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance, which includes coal or wood burning fires and wood burning stoves. Whilst this does not currently apply to gas appliances it is likely the gas safety regulations may be updated in the future and it is therefore advisable at this stage for any landlord with gas or oil fired appliances to install the alarms.
  3. In addition to the above 2 requirements, landlords are required to make checks to ensure that each alarm that is installed is in proper working order on the day a new tenancy begins if it is a tenancy that begins after 1 October 2015. This does not apply to tenancies that are renewed or continue after that time. As best practice, landlords are advised to keep records of the checks that they carry out before each new tenancy commences so that they can prove they complied with their obligations. It is considered acceptable for a landlord to insert a new clause in to any new tenancy agreement granted after 1 October 2015 to require a tenant to carry out monthly checks on the alarms to ensure they are in good working order and to report any defects or problems immediately to the landlord to remedy.

The key element is that this is a requirement that all landlords must comply with for any property that is occupied by tenants as at the 1 October 2015. Thereafter for any new tenancy granted after that date, they are required to carry out checks on the alarms before any new tenancy commences to ensure that they are in full working order.

Failure to comply with any of the above Regulations means that a local authority who has knowledge or reasonable grounds to believe that a landlord is in breach can serve a remedial notice on the landlord giving him 28 days in which to remedy matters failing which a penalty may be payable. If the landlord does not comply within the 28 days the penalty payable can be up to £5,000. There no period of grace so my advice to all landlords of affected properties is to get the alarms installed NOW.

The Regulations do not specify whether the alarms should be battery operated or hardwired and essentially this is therefore up to the landlord. A word of caution in that regard: landlords are best advised to check with their local authority as to whether any local obligations are in force as to whether or not the alarms should be hard wired or battery so as not to fall foul of these.

These Regulations will not apply to HMO licensed premises, resident landlord situations, long leases, students halls of residence, hostels and refuges, care homes, hospitals and hospices or other healthcare accommodation