There is no doubt that working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms save lives.
From 1st October 2015, The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 (“the Regulations”), which were only finally approved in September, will require private sector landlords in England to install a smoke alarm and, in some cases, a carbon monoxide alarm in each of their residential properties.
Do the Regulations apply to me?
The obligation is on the landlord to ensure that the Regulations are complied with.
If you own a residential property in England and have granted one or more tenants, under a tenancy agreement, the right to occupy all or part of that property as their only or main residence in exchange for the payment of rent (whether or not a market rent), it is highly likely that you will be affected by these Regulations.
The Regulations do not apply to you if you are a social housing landlord or a live-in landlord. There are also a number of tenancies that remain unaffected by the Regulations such as long leases, student halls of residence and care homes.
What am I required to do?
In each property that is occupied on or after 1st October 2015 (regardless of when the tenancy agreement began), you must ensure that:
- A smoke alarm (not a heat detector) is installed on every storey of the rental premises on which there is a room which is used as living accommodation (this includes a bathroom or lavatory); and
- A carbon monoxide alarm is installed in any room that is used as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel burning consumption appliance (e.g. an open fire).
Furthermore, for every new tenancy that begins on or after 1st October 2015, you must also ensure that:
- Checks are made to ensure that both the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms (providing you require both) are in proper working order on the first day of the tenancy. These checks may be carried out by you or they can be carried out by someone else on your behalf. It is implied that it will be the tenants’ responsibility to regularly test the alarms thereafter.
It is a good idea to keep some evidence that you have tested the alarms on the first day of the tenancy. For example, the Government has suggested that if the landlord goes through the inventory on the first day of the tenancy, he/she could make provision for the tenant to sign the inventory to record that the alarms are in working order and that they are aware of the alarms’ locations.
What if I don’t comply?
Where a local housing authority has reasonable grounds to believe that you have failed to meet one or more of your legal obligations, you will be issued with a remedial notice which will require you to meet your obligations within 28 days.
If you fail to comply with the notice, the authority will themselves arrange for the alarms to be fitted and/or tested and you may have to pay a fine of up to £5,000.
What should I do next?
- Carry out an audit on your properties in order to determine the type and number of alarms you require.
- It is good practice to write to your existing tenants informing them that you will be installing the alarms on a particular date and explaining why you are required to do so.
- Ensure that you have obtained and installed the alarms in time for 1st October. Local fire and rescue authorities have a limited number of free smoke and carbon monoxide alarms funded by the Government. It is worth checking whether any of these free alarms are available.
- Ensure that you have sufficient evidence to prove that you tested the alarms and they are in proper working order on the first day of any new tenancies from 1st October.
If you would like any further information about the new regulation, please do not hesitate to contact David Watson.
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