by Ed Firmin
Posted on Monday, October 5th, 2015 at 15:28
New regulations approved by Parliament came into force on 1 October which means that it is now compulsory for private sector landlords to ensure that smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are installed in rented residential accommodation.
If you fall foul of the rules, local authorities can impose a fine of up to £5000.
So what do I need to have done?
As a student landlord, you will need to ensure that at least one smoke alarm is installed on each storey of the premises on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation.
In addition, you also need to install a carbon monoxide alarm in any room used as living accommodation where solid fuel is used. This means any kind of wood burning stove or an open coal fire. It also applies to appliances like a solid fuel Aga.
There’s no rules about where you need to fit the alarms, but you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure they have been fitted in a safe place.
You then have to ensure that the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.
There’s no grace period allowed, so if you haven’t done this already, then you could be liable for the fine as of now, so it’s important to get on top of this as soon as possible. You should write to your tenants to tell them that it is a legal requirement for you to fit the alarms.
What happens after that?
Once the alarms are installed, tenants then have the responsibility of checking the alarms are in working order. If they aren’t, then the landlord must replace the battery, or the alarm itself. The rules don’t say what type of alarm you must install, but it might be advisable to fit a long-life, non-tamper proof alarm so that you don’t have to worry about batteries running out.
What happens if I haven’t followed the rules?
If local authorities believe you haven’t followed the rules then they will issue a remedial notice. You then have 28 days to comply after which there will be no penalty issued if you have installed all relevant alarms. If, for example, your tenants won’t allow you access to the property, then you have to demonstrate you have done as much as you can to gain access; if you are able to prove that, you will also be exempt from the fine. However, if you just don’t comply, then you will be liable for the penalty, which could be as much as £5,000.
Kent Fire and Rescue Service has been working with the Government to help landlords prepare for these regulations. It is running events to give landlords all they need to know about the changes, and you can also receive free smoke/carbon monoxide detectors.
For more information and to book your place on an event, visit here.
If you would like any more information on these new changes, please get in touch here.