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Act now on new alarm legislation

Smoke alarms

During any period beginning on or after 1st October 2015 while the rental property is occupied under a tenancy (or licence) the landlord must ensure that a smoke alarm is installed and working on each storey on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation. 
Note that Heat detectors are not a replacement for smoke alarms.

Carbon monoxide alarms

A carbon monoxide alarm must also be provided by the landlord in any room which is used wholly or partly as living accommodation and which contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance e.g. wood burning stove or an open log or coal fire, solid fuel Aga. 

Checking the alarms

For new tenancies beginning on or after 1st October, the landlord is required to check that smoke alarms or carbon monoxide alarms are in proper working order on the day the tenancy begins. 
Even if the tenants were in occupation prior to 1st October, the landlord must still install the alarms.
After the landlord’s test on the first day of the tenancy (or on the first day the alarm was installed), tenants should take responsibility for their own safety and test all alarms regularly during the tenancy to make sure they are in working order.
The landlord or agent has a duty to ensure that the alarms are checked periodically, making sure that they are in working order. The government guidance recommends that the tenant checks monthly.

Hard wired or battery powered? What type of alarm should you install?

The Regulations do not stipulate whether the alarm should be hard wired or battery powered, but suggest that the landlord should make an “informed decision” to choose the best alarm for their properties and tenants.
Local fire and rescue authorities have a limited number of alarms for free distribution to landlords, and can also offer appropriate installation advice. Some authorities may be able to install the alarms on the landlord’s behalf. See the link at the end of the article for details of how to contact your local fire authority.

Penalties and enforcement

The local housing authority is responsible for enforcement of the new rules and can levy a civil penalty charge on the landlord of up to £5,000 if they are not complied with. The authority will be able to issue a remedial notice requiring a landlord to fit and/or test the alarms within 28 days.

Exemptions and other legislation

Social housing and Licensed houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) are the main exemptions, where separate regulations apply.
Top tips
  • Make tenants aware of the need to check alarms regularly, and report any faults.
  • Agree between landlord and agent who is responsible for installing and checking the alarms, for all new and existing tenancies.
  • Get the tenant to sign the inventory when moving in to record that they are satisfied that the required alarms are in working order and have been tested by the landlord.
  • Review management procedures and systems to record that alarms have been correctly checked by the tenant or agent throughout the tenancy.
  • To reduce the problem of batteries being taken out and not being replaced, the Residential Landlord’s Association recommends landlords fit ten year, long-life, tamper proof alarms.
  • Ensure that there is adequate buildings and contents insurance in place. If you rent out a flat, ensure that you have property owners liability – contact LetRisks for further information.
Useful links
Find your local fire authority (Chief Fire Officers Association):
Property Portals