The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015
What’s this all about?
New Regulations are expected to come into force in October requiring landlords in the private rented sector in England (excluding those that are registered providers of social housing) to ensure that a smoke alarm is equipped in every storey of their property and that a carbon monoxide alarm is provided in any room which contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance. Failure to comply with these Regulations which will be enforced by local housing authorities will result in a fine of up to £5000.
As the title suggests, these Regulations apply to England only, although the Welsh Government is likely to follow suit in due course. In Scotland, the requirements for the installation of smoke alarms in private rented housing are unchanged for which statutory guidance is available on the Scottish Government website – Fire detection in private rented properties: guidance – gov.scot (www.gov.scot) In the case of landlords in Northern Ireland, guidance concerning smoke and carbon monoxide alarms is available from the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.
How does this affect you?
These Regulations place duties on a landlord of residential properties in England to ensure that:
- A smoke alarm is equipped on each storey of the premises which is wholly or partly used as living accommodation;
- A carbon monoxide alarm is equipped in any room which is used wholly or partly as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance; and
- The smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in proper working order at the start of any new tenancy.
Fire and Rescue Authorities throughout England are expected to support private landlords in their own areas to meet their new responsibilities with the provision of free alarms, with grant funding from government. This is part of wider government plans to ensure there are sufficient measures in place to protect public safety, while at the same time avoiding regulation which would push up rents and restrict the supply of homes, limiting choice for tenants.
Equipment Standards, Installation and Maintenance
In support of the Regulations, it is strongly recommended when purchasing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms that they are selected from products complying with the relevant BSEN Standards and which have the BSI Kitemark and CE mark. It’s also essential that they are installed, used and maintained in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions. A copy of the manufacturers’ user guide should be included in the information provided to tenants and the importance of weekly testing and routine battery replacement emphasised.
Important Note: Although beyond the requirements of the new Regulations, the provision of a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing an appliance burning any carbon-based fuel, including gas, oil, wood and coal is recommended safety practice. Also, whilst not directly linked to these Regulations, landlords are reminded of their legal duties under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 which include, amongst other matters, ensuring that:
- A safety check of each gas appliance and flue is undertaken annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer;
- Records of safety checks are issued to tenants within 28 days of the check having been conducted, or to new tenants before they take occupation, and kept for a period of two years;
- Gas appliances, flues and installation pipe work are maintained in a safe condition. Gas appliances and flues should be serviced in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions. If these are not available, they are to be serviced annually unless advised otherwise by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
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