From October 2015 Landlords are required by law to ensure working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are installed in rental properties in England. The information below is intended to help you understand your responsibilities in relation to the new legislation.
Why have these changes been made?
This legislation has been proposed to address the imbalance between protection levels for private tenants in contrast to residents classed as owner occupiers, or social housing occupants.
It is estimated that the national percentage of all households with a working smoke alarm currently stands at over 90% compared with 83% in rental properties.
Why do you need to install a CO detector?
Although landlords are already obliged to have a yearly check carried out on any gas appliances, this alone cannot guarantee protection from carbon monoxide. The installation of a CO detector is quick, easy and cheap, and ensures your tenants are protected from what is often referred to as the ‘silent killer’.
Current advice from the Health and Safety Executive already states that a CO detector should be installed in rental properties, but this has always been down to the discretion of each landlord or letting agent. From October 2015 it will become law that that any high risk room, i.e. those containing a a solid fuel appliance, must have a CO detector installed.
What happens if you don’t act on these changes?
Failing to comply with the legislation which came into force from the beginning of October 2015 will leave you open to a penalty of up to £5000.
What does this mean for you ?
A working smoke detector must be installed on each floor of a property for new tenancies starting after 1 October 2015.
Building regulations already require that properties constructed after June 1992 have a mains powered, interconnected smoke alarm system. Therefore, many landlords may find their smoke alarm provision already meets the new regulations.
There has previously been no legislation requiring landlords of properties let to single family units and built prior to 1992 to have smoke alarms. However, these properties will now be subject to the new legislation, meaning smoke alarms will need to be installed by October 2015.
HMO’s are already subject to tighter legislation in accordance to The Housing Act 2004, and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
As a landlord, you must consider the effect this legislation will have on your properties.
We have reviewed your fully managed properties and confirm they meet the new Regulations therefore there is no further action required from you. On the grant of any new tenancy after 1 October 2015 we will test the smoke detectors on the day the new tenancy starts to comply with the new Regulations. To test the smoke & CO detectors we have to use canned smoke/carbon monoxide and not just rely on pressing the test button as that simply tests the electronic circuit rather than the sensor itself.
Smoke and heat detectors usually have a life of 10 years before they need to be changed and we will check this when a new tenancy is granted or renewed and replace them if necessary to ensure continued compliance.
If we do not fully manage your properties then you should satisfy yourself your properties comply with the new Regulations and in particular check the age of the detectors and replace them if necessary on an ongoing basis and test them properly using canned smoke/carbon monoxide as described above.