The lowdown on smoke alarms and carbon monoxide requirements for landlords

by Ed Firmin

Posted on Monday, June 1st, 2015 at 11:43

Recently, changes were announced by the Government which mean that from 1 October 2015, landlords will be required by law, to ensure that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are installed in rented residential accommodation. Failure to comply will lead to a penalty being imposed of up to £5,000. (Note: these regulations may change with the new Government as elected in the May General Election and they are also subject to Parliamentary approval)

What does this mean for me?

As the landlord of a student property, you will need to ensure that a smoke alarm is equipped on each storey of the premises on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation.

In addition, a carbon monoxide alarm must be provided by the landlord in any room which contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance. This means any kind of wood burning stove or an open coal fire. It also applies to appliances like a solid fuel Aga.

What kind of alarm do I need to install?

There’s no direction at the moment on what type of alarm you need to install, so it can be a wired or stand-alone system. However, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) recommends that you should fit a long-life non-tamper proof alarms, so that you aren’t reliant on batteries running out and not being replaced.

Who’s responsible for checking that it works?

Officially, a landlord is only required to check that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are working on the day of a new tenancy that commences after 1 October 2015. This doesn’t apply to a renewal of a tenancy agreement.

Again, the RLA recommends that alarms should be checked periodically to see that they are working. Ultimately, the landlord is responsible for checking the alarms, but if he/she asks the tenant to undertake the checks on their behalf, then they will have to make sure that the checks have been carried out, and can prove that, if required.

What happens if my tenant won’t let me install the alarms?

The local authority is responsible for enforcement, and will be the one fining you if you are in breach of the regulations. If your tenant won’t let you gain access, you will have to demonstrate that you have taken every step possible to try and install the alarms. You won’t then be penalised. If your tenant refuses your entry, then there is nothing you can do about it.

How much will that cost me?

Potentially nothing. We’re waiting for announcements on allocation of funding so that fire and rescue authorities can offer free smoke and carbon monoxide alarms free of charge.

If you’d like some more information on how these new changes will affect you, then please do get in touch here, I’m happy to advise you.

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