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What You Need to Know About: The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015

View profile for Ryan Heaven
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The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015.

What do I have to do?

If you are a Landlord or a Letting Agent in England you will need to ensure compliance with the following:-

All privately rented properties with tenant(s) in as of 1st October 2015 will require:

  • a smoke alarm on each floor of the property and;
  • a carbon monoxide detector in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance (for guidance on ‘solid fuel’ see below)

All tenancies beginning on or after 1st October 2015 will require:

  • The Landlord (or their agent) to check that the smoke detector and/or carbon monoxide detector is in working order on the day the property is let.

Penalties:

Local housing authorities will be the bodies responsible for checking properties are compliant with the law. If the housing authority believes that a property is non-compliant then they must serve a notice demanding that the problem be rectified. This notice must be served by the housing authority within 21 days of a breach being discovered.

Once a notice has been received then the landlord or their agent has 28 days in which to remedy the breach without any further penalty being incurred. If the Tenant prevents the work carried out then the Landlord can use that as a reason for non-compliance. The local housing authority can, with consent, carry out the works themselves if the Landlord has not complied.

If the Landlord has failed to comply with the above, then the local housing authority can fine the Landlord up to £5,000.00. A penalty notice must be served by the local housing authority within 6 weeks of the breach being discovered.

The Landlord can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal if they disagree with the local housing authority’s decision. The grounds for appeal are that –

(a)the decision to confirm or vary the penalty charge notice was based on an error of fact; (b)the decision was wrong in law;

(c)the amount of the penalty charge is unreasonable;

(d)the decision was unreasonable for any other reason.

Explanatory Notes:

Solid fuel is defined as wood, coal, biomass and anything else solid (i.e. not gas or liquid) that burns for energy. It does not include oil or gas, however the government has stated it is a good idea for there to be carbon monoxide detectors in all rooms with a fuel burning appliance. Many Landlord’s Insurers will require smoke and carbon monoxide detectors already and may require more than the law requires, so be sure to check with the insurance company to see if they have any demands.

Smoke alarms must be on all floors used for living space. For example, if you have a second floor flat with a staircase granting access from the ground floor, you would need a smoke alarm installed on the area of the property that is the ground floor because it is used on a regular basis. Similarly, you do not need to install a smoke alarm in the loft unless that loft is used for living space, or any outdoors buildings such as a garage or shed unless those areas are used for living space.

The smoke alarms do not have to be wired in and the legislation does not specify what type of alarm should be used, so long as it works.

Checking the detectors at the start of a tenancy is a simple enough thing to check and as it needs to be done on the first day of the tenancy it can be witnessed by the tenants. It is unclear how this will work in practice, but the law does say it must be checked on the first day of the tenancy. It is best to get written confirmation that the alarm has been checked by whoever is checking it at the time. It does not need to be witnessed, but it would be a good idea to do so just for extra security.

Once the detectors have been checked and shown to be in good working order, it is then up to the tenant to ensure that the detectors have working batteries. A prudent landlord or agent could check the alarms during routine inspections, although strictly speaking this is above and beyond the required duty under the law.

Exceptions:

These rules do not apply where:

  • the tenant lives with the landlord or any member of the landlord’s family.
  • The lease is a ‘long lease’ i.e. over 7 years in length as agreed at the start of the lease
  • Student halls of residence, hostels, refuges, care homes, hospitals, hospices or any other building related to medical accommodation (most likely because these buildings all have their own regulations to follow)

For the full legislation, click here