Residential Property – Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 have been published in draft and are due to come into force on 1st October 2015.

The Regulations state that landlords must:

  1. Ensure that a smoke alarm is equipped on each storey of the premises on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation.
  2. Ensure that a carbon monoxide alarm is equipped in any room of the premises which is used wholly or partly as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance.
  3. Make checks to ensure that each alarm is in proper working order on the start of a new tenancy.   

The phrase “solid fuel burning combustion appliance” is not defined in the Regulations, but guidance from the Health and Safety Executive suggests that both open fires and wood burning stoves fall within that description.

The Regulations apply to “relevant landlords”, defined as:

  1. The immediate landlord
  2. of residential premises in England
  3. which are let on a tenancy which grants one or more persons the right to occupy all or part of the premises as their only or main residence.

It therefore seems likely that, as with the Gas Safety Regulations, these Regulations will apply to houses let under an AHA tenancy or a Farm Business Tenancy, or residential premises which are part of a business tenancy, as well as property let under a residential tenancy.

The requirement to check that alarms are in working order only applies to new tenancies starting on or after 1st October 2015. This does not include a new periodic tenancy arising on the end of a fixed term shorthold tenancy, nor any other tenancy arising on the end of an earlier tenancy where the landlord, the tenant and the premises are all the same or substantially the same. A tenancy granted in pursuance of an agreement entered into before 1st October 2015 is also excluded from the requirement for checks. However in the spirit of best practice and to minimise risk it is advisable to ensure that all let residential property have alarms installed. It may also be a requirement of your insurance policy in any event.

A landlord who fails to comply with the Regulations may be served with a remedial notice by the local housing authority. The notice must specify the premises, state the breach, specify the remedial action required and give the landlord 28 days to comply. The landlord may challenge a remedial notice within 28 days. If the landlord does not challenge the notice or carry out the work required, the local authority may arrange for the remedial action to be carried out, with the consent of the occupier. Where a landlord is in breach of the Regulations and has been served with a remedial notice, a local authority may also charge a penalty of up to £5,000. The landlord has a right of appeal against a penalty charge notice to the First Tier Tribunal.