Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Alarms

What Landlords Need To Know About Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Alarms

The Government has recently published feedback from a consultation about smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in rented properties. They plan to make changes to the current requirements as soon as is practicably possible.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms: Current Legislation

Since October 2015, private landlords are required to install at least one smoke detector on each storey of their rented property that is used as living accommodation. This does not currently apply to social landlords. Landlords are also required to install a carbon monoxide detector in any room where solid fuel is used. That is any room with an open fire or log burner. Gas appliances may also give off carbon monoxide, so it is good practice to install alarms in rooms with these items too.

There is no criteria about what sort of alarm to use, e.g. battery operated or hard wired. Each landlord should make an informed choice. Heat detectors may be installed, but these must not be used instead of smoke detectors.

The legislation doesn’t specify where alarms should be fitted but smoke alarms are generally fitted to the ceiling of a hall or landing. Carbon monoxide alarms are generally fitted at head-height, 1-3 metres away from the source.

At the beginning of each tenancy, the landlord must ensure that the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working properly. After that, tenants are expected to take responsibility for their own safety and to check any alarms regularly. Monthly checks are probably adequate.

Licensed shared houses require slightly more robust standards. This includes interlinked, mains-wired smoke alarms so that when one alarm sounds, they all do. And additional interlinked, mains-wired heat and smoke alarms in the kitchen and living areas. A fire detection system complying with BS 5839: Part 6:1995: Type LD3, Grade D is recommended. Landlords of shared houses are also required to be able to produce evidence that the alarms are checked regularly and are in good working order.

Proposed Changes

Proposed changes include:

  • both social and private landlords will be obliged to ensure a carbon monoxide alarm is installed in any room in their homes with a fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers)
  • in any home, when a new fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers) is installed, a carbon monoxide alarm will be required by law to be installed
  • landlords will be legally obliged to repair or replace alarms once informed that they are faulty (testing will remain the resident’s responsibility)

In addition,

  • social landlords will be obliged to ensure at least one smoke alarm is installed on each storey of their homes

Previous research has shown that landlords find these regulations difficult to understand and many struggle to comply with the regulations. It is good practice to consider the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms legislation as a minimum standard. The best landlords will go beyond this to ensure that their tenants are safe in their home. At New Mills Properties we will continue to ensure that our landlords are aware of and comply with the latest legislation. And we will remind tenants of their responsibilities with regard to checking alarms on a regular basis.

For more information see the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015, the latest consultation feedback and our post about Fire Safety for Landlords.