Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Regulations

What do the regulations require?

The draft regulations are currently awaiting Parliamentary approval. If they are approved, private rented sector landlords will be required, from 1 October 2015, to have:

  • at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their rental property which is used as living accommodation,
  • and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room used as living accommodation where solid fuel is used.

After that, the landlord must make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.

Who is responsible for checking the required alarms are in working order?

The regulations, if approved by Parliament, will require landlords to ensure alarms are installed in their properties with effect from 1 October 2015. After that the landlord (or someone acting on behalf of the landlord) must ensure all alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy. After the landlord’s test on the first day of the tenancy, tenants should take responsibility for their own safety and test all alarms regularly to make sure they are in working order. Testing monthly is generally considered an appropriate frequency for smoke alarms. If tenants find that their alarm(s) are not in working order during the tenancy, they are advised to arrange the replacement of the batteries or the alarm itself with the relevant landlord.

Is there a ‘grace’ period for landlords?

If the regulations are approved, landlords are expected to be compliant from 1 October 2015 when the regulations will come into force. There will be no grace period after this date to install the required alarms.

When must the alarms be checked?

For each new tenancy beginning on or after 1 October 2015, landlords must check that the required alarms are in working order on the first day of the tenancy. The first day of the tenancy is the date stipulated in the tenancy agreement, even where the tenant decides to actually move into the property on a later date. The intention of the regulations is to increase the safety of private sector tenants by ensuring that they have working alarms at the beginning of the tenancy.

What if the tenant won’t allow the landlord access to the premises to install the alarms or take the remedial action?

The landlord should write to the tenant to explain that it is a legal requirement to install the alarms and that it is for the tenant’s own safety. If the local authority has reasonable grounds to believe the landlord has not complied with the regulations a remedial notice will be issued, detailing the suspected breach and required action. If the landlord proves compliance, either by becoming compliant or proving they were already compliant, to the relevant local authority or demonstrates they have taken all reasonable steps, other than legal proceedings, to become compliant within 28 days of the notice being issued then they will be exempt from the civil penalty – which could be up to £5,000.

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