Raising the alarm for Landlords
As of 1st October, landlords are required to comply with The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015. As the new regulations were only passed on 17th September, landlords...
As of 1st October, landlords are required to comply with The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015. As the new regulations were only passed on 17th September, landlords have been left with very little time in which to meet the requirements or even find out what the regulations actually entail. We spoke to James Wood from the Residential Landlords Association to find out exactly how the new changes will affect landlords.
What are the new requirements?
As of 1st October 2015 almost all privately rented properties in England require a smoke alarm on every floor with living accommodation and a carbon monoxide alarm in every room if it has a solid fuel appliance. For new tenancies starting on or after 1st October 2015, landlords are required to test these alarms on the first day of the tenancy to make sure they are in full working order.
But gas isn’t a solid is it?
That’s correct. Gas boilers, surprisingly, aren’t covered by these new regulations; they only relate to solid fuels like wood, peat and coal.
The RLA still recommends that landlords have CO2 alarms in rooms with gas boilers though. Over 200 people a year are taken to hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning and around 40 of those die. The best practice is to fit the CO2 alarms near gas boilers so your tenant isn’t one of the 40.
What type of alarms should I install?
Currently you just need an alarm that works, as there was no standard specified. However, these should be British Standard and landlords would be wise to stick to this when purchasing alarms.
Where should I put them?
The government’s guidance suggests reading the instructions that come with the alarm. Generally though, smoke alarms should be fixed to the ceiling in a circulation space and carbon monoxide alarms should be positioned at head height, one to three metres away from a potential source of carbon monoxide.
How will the new law be enforced?
Local authorities will serve a remediation notice on landlords they believe to be in breach of these regulations. The landlord will then have 28 days within which to repair, check or install new alarms as required.
My tenant won’t give me access to the property, what should I do?
If a landlord has made reasonable efforts to comply with the remediation notice they will be covered. Always keep records of tenants refusing access.
What happens if I breach the new law?
Landlords can face a penalty of up to £5,000. The council gets to keep this money and allocate it to whichever department they wish, so there is an incentive for enforcement.
Can I appeal?
Yes you can, potentially you can even appeal indefinitely due to poor wording in the regulations.
What properties are exempt?
Student accommodation, tenancies with a lease of at least seven years, hostels, care homes, accommodation relating to health care provision and lodger agreements where the landlords share amenities with a lodger.
Licenced HMOs are also technically exempt but that’s only because they are covered by their own more stringent fire safety requirements.
I’ve installed and checked everything in my property, now how do I prove it?
Evidence is key here. Landlords should get the tenant to sign an agreement to confirm that the alarms are fitted and in working order on the first day of the tenancy. The RLA can provide a tenancy checklist, which also doubles as proof of service for all the new Deregulation Act requirements. You can find that here.