This guidance explains the requirements of The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015, which came into force in England on 1St October 2015. The legislation does not apply to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Who does this legislation apply to?
The legislation applies to all private rented sector landlord’s in England, i.e. landlord’s involved in residential letting. This includes unlicensed HMO’s.
The following types of premises are excluded from the regulations:
- A defined long lease (as per the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 or leases which grant a right of occupation for a term of seven years or more.
- Accommodation shared with the landlord or landlord’s family.
- Student halls of residence, hostels and refuges, care homes, hospitals and hospices and other healthcare related accommodation.
What is required?
From the 1st of October 2015, landlord’s are required to do the following in relation all new and existing residential tenancies, there is no transitional period:
- Provide a smoke alarm on each storey of the premises on which there is a room wholly or partly used as living accommodation. This includes floors which only have bathrooms and toilets on them. A heat detector is not an acceptable alternative.
- Provide a carbon monoxide alarm in any room of the premises which is used wholly or partly as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel combustion appliance. This includes open fires, wood burners, Rayburns, Parkrays etc. Gas and oil fired appliances are excluded as they are covered by separate legislation.
- For each new tenancy, check that the required alarms are in proper working order on the first day of tenancy. The first day is deemed to be the date specified in the tenancy agreement, irrespective of when the tenant actually moves in.
For mixed use tenancies, the same requirements apply, however:
- The maintenance should follow the terms of the tenancy agreement.
- The tenant is responsible for providing smoke and CO detectors in any sub-let or underlet property.
- The landlord should send the tenant an annual reminder to check the alarms.
What is the difference between an alarm and a detector?
A smoke alarm or CO alarm is a self contained unit, while a detector has a built in sensor and is part of a system.
Type and Installation of alarms
The type of alarm and location for installation are not specified. While there is no requirement for them to be hard wired, none of the requirements under this legislation supersede specific fire related requirements under The Housing Act 2004 or The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 or from the outcome of any fire risk assessment.
The following general guidance is given:
- Install as per manufacturers requirements.
- Smoke alarms should be ceiling mounted in a circulation space.
- CO alarms should be positioned at head height, approximately 1 – 3 metres from the carbon monoxide source.
Testing and Maintenance
Once the required alarms have been installed, it is the tenant’s responsibility to test the alarms. It is recommended that this is completed on a monthly basis.
In the event that alarms are not working, the tenant should contact their landlord for replacement of batteries or the alarm as necessary.
What if tenants deny access to fit the alarms?
Where the tenant refuses to allow access to for fitting of the alarms, the landlord should formally write to the tenant explaining that this is a legal requirement to protect the tenant’s own safety.
Local authorities will enforce these regulations. They have powers to issue remedial notices requiring alarms to be fitted. They can also fine the landlord up to £5,000.