The regulations for smoke alarms have now been extended so that carbon monoxide alarms must also be installed in rooms of a private rented property where there are any fixed combustion appliances such as gas and oil-fired boilers.
These alarms must be in proper working order at the start of a new tenancy.
The amendments to the 2015 regulations also include more subtle but significant changes that landlords need to digest before they are enforced in one month’s time.
Here are some key elements of the new regulations:
All private rental homes have required at least one working smoke alarm on each storey where there is a room used as living accommodation since 2015. The only change to this part of the regulations is that it will now also apply to all social rented homes.
However, as well as smoke alarms, all rented properties must now have a carbon monoxide alarm in rooms used as living accommodation where there is any type of fixed combustion appliance, with the exception of gas cookers.
Rooms with gas cookers only are not included in the updated regulations due to evidence that shows they are responsible for fewer incidents of carbon monoxide poisoning than gas boilers, which are generally used continuously for longer periods.
Although the regulations don’t stipulate the type of alarms that must be used, they do recommend smoke alarms that are compliant with British Standards BS 5839-6 and carbon monoxide alarms that are British Standards BS 50291-compliant. Alarms with ‘sealed for life’ batteries are considered a better option than those with replaceable batteries.
There is a requirement to ensure alarms work at the start of each new tenancy. If a tenant reports an alarm is not in proper working order during the tenancy and it is found not to be, their landlord will be legally required to repair or replace it as soon as reasonably practicable.
If a battery-powered alarm is not in working order during the tenancy, it is the responsibility of a tenant to check and, where possible, replace the batteries themselves. If the alarm still does not work, or if tenants are unable to replace the batteries themselves, they should report this to their landlord.
Landlords must arrange for the repair or replacement of alarms if they are found to not be in proper working order as soon as practicably possible. If action is not taken and the local authority issues a remedial notice to enforce the replacement or repair, landlords must take the specified action within 21 days.
Landlords can make written representations which will suspend the notice for seven days. The local authority will need to inform the landlord of their final decision in writing within those seven days, or the notice will be automatically withdrawn.
If action is not taken, and a landlord is not considered to have taken all reasonable steps to comply with the notice, the local authority can impose a fine of up to £5,000 per breach. There will be the right to appeal any fines to the First-tier Tribunal.
As laid out in the 2015 regulations there are exemptions for shared accommodation with the landlord or landlord’s family; long leases; student halls of residence; hostels and refuges; care homes; hospitals and hospices; other accommodation relating to healthcare provision.
If landlords haven’t already, arranged for the installation of new alarms and repair of existing alarms and updated their property management practices accordingly this should be done without delay. Landlords are expected to be compliant from the 1st October 2022 with fines of £5,000 for non-compliance.