Since 1 October 2015 all private sector landlords are required to have at least one Smoke alarm installed on each storey of their property where there is living accommodation, have a Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance and check alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.
The intention of The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 is to increase the safety of private sector tenants by ensuring that they have working alarms at the beginning of the tenancy.
Under these regulations, all private sector landlords are now required to:
- have at least one Smoke alarm installed on each storey of their property where there is living accommodation.
- have a Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. a coal fire, wood burning stove).
- check alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.
The requirements will be enforced by local authorities who can impose a fine of up to £5,000 where a landlord fails to comply with a remedial notice.
It is a legal requirement to have a smoke detectors fitted on every storey which is used as living accommodation, this includes bathrooms and toilets.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors must be fitted in rooms used as living accommodation where solid fuel appliances are installed. Although they are not required for gas appliances, it is being encouraged as ‘best safety practice’ to fit them wherever possible.
Battery or Mains Powered?
At present, alarms may be either battery or mains powered. Mains wiring the smoke alarms is a preferable option for many. However this should be weighed up with the additional cost and their failure to function during a power-cut.
As a landlord it is your responsibility to ensure that the alarms are fitted, working and tested on the first day of every new tenancy.
You or your agent can perform this test. It is often performed as part of the Inventory or Check-in process. It is best practice to perform the test in the presence of the tenants with the outcome documented and signed by both parties.
After the initial test, it is the tenant’s responsibility to test the detectors regularly (ideally once a month) and replace batteries as required. If the detector is found not to be working, it is your responsibility to replace the unit as soon as possible.
It is also good practice to check the presence and functionality of the alarms as part of every routine property inspection.
Duty of Care & Additional Responsibilities
Landlords also have a duty of care to take further steps to minimise fire risk. The Housing Act 2004 brought in a new system of regulation for fire safety by way of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). This system, coupled with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) and local HMO licensing conditions places a duty of care on landlords to ensure that their property is safe for their tenants.
Different legislation applies to different types of residential accommodation. Read the Fire Legislation article to find out more about which laws are applicable to your property and occupancy type.
- The (LACORS) Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services guide provides common guidance for all types of properties.
- For further details on this legislation, see the official Q&A Booklet for Landlords and Tenants.