The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015
Working alarms save lives – in the event of a fire in your home you are at least four times more likely to die if there is no working smoke alarm.
Private sector landlords are required from 1 October 2015 to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their properties and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. a coal fire, wood burning stove).
After that, the landlord (or someone acting on behalf of the landlord) must make sure the 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.
The regulations do not stipulate the type of alarms (such as hard wired or battery powered) to be installed. Landlords should make an informed decision and choose the best alarms for their properties and tenants. Heat detectors are not a replacement for smoke alarms.
You should follow the individual manufacturer’s instructions when installing the alarms. However, in general, smoke alarms should be fixed to the ceiling in a circulation space, i.e. a hall or a landing, and carbon monoxide alarms should be positioned at head height, either on a wall or shelf, approximately 1-3 metres away from a potential source of carbon monoxide. If needed, your local fire and rescue authority may be able to provide further advice on installation or you can download fire safety information from www.gov.uk/firekills
Carbon monoxide alarms are only required in rooms containing a solid fuel burning appliance (i.e. rooms containing an open fire, log burning stove, etc.).
However, as gas appliances can emit carbon monoxide, we would expect and encourage reputable landlords to ensure that working carbon monoxide alarms are installed in rooms with these.
The requirements will be enforced by local authorities who can impose a fine of up to £5,000 where a landlord fails to comply with a remedial notice.
Landlords should be aware that the regulations do not contain all the fire safety requirements which their premises may be subject to. There are fire safety requirements under other legislation which may be applicable, such as under Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
The regulations apply to unlicensed HMOs. Licensed HMOs are exempt from Parts 1 to 5 of the regulations but only because the regulations also amend the HMO licensing obligations in the Housing Act 2004 so as to impose similar requirements.