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From 1 October 2015, The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 require both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms to be installed in rented residential accommodation. The regulations apply both to houses and flats. Failure to comply can lead to a civil penalty being imposed of up to £5,000.
These provisions only apply in England not Wales.
Who is affected?
The requirements are imposed on the immediate landlord. A tenancy includes a licence to occupy a residential premises and it also extends to subletting for these purposes.
In the case of a licensed HMO or where there is a selective licensing it is the responsibility of the licence holder to ensure that mandatory conditions imposed in relation to the installation of alarms are complied with.
There are various exemptions:
- a tenancy under which the occupier shares any accommodation with the landlord or a member of the landlord's family. There must be a sharing of an amenity which includes a toilet, personal washing facilities, a kitchen or a living room but excludes any reference to storage or access
- a tenancy which is a long lease or which grants a right of occupation of the premises, i.e. for more than 21 years
- student halls of residence
- care homes
- accommodation relating to health care provision
- providers of social housing
Requirement for smoke alarms
During any period beginning on or after 1 October 2015 while the premises are occupied under a tenancy (or licence) the landlord must 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. A living room will include a lounge dining room and kitchen as well as a bathroom or toilet. It also includes a hall or landing. This means that a smoke alarm must be provided in working order on each storey. Since the regulation relates to each storey in the premises this suggests that a separate alarm is not needed on a half landing as these would not be regarded as individually being a storey. As regards individual flats located on one floor then there will have to be at least one alarm within the flat itself or alternatively are provided outside the flat on the same floor of the building, that is, a communal alarm.
Likewise, for flats comprising more than one storey there will need to be a smoke alarm on each floor.
It is the location of an alarm which sounds which is crucial; not the positioning of detectors.
The regulations do not stipulate what kind of alarm is required. Ideally it should be a hard wired alarm system. It can, however, be a single standalone alarm. Landlords are recommended to fit ten year long life tamper proof alarms, otherwise there is a problem of batteries being taken out and not being replaced.
Carbon monoxide alarms
Likewise, during any period beginning on or after 1 October 2015 when the premises are occupied under a tenancy or a licence a carbon monoxide alarm must be provided by the landlord in any room in premises which is used wholly or partly as living accommodation which contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance. This applies to any kind of wood burning stove or an open coal fire. It will also extend to equipment such as a solid fuel Aga in the kitchen. This is already a requirement with new installations of solid fuel burning combustion appliances as under Building Regulations there is a requirement to install a carbon monoxide alarm. This is now extended to any existing appliances already in place before Building Regulations imposed this requirement or where building regulations are not observed.
There is guidance on gov.uk for tenants and landlords.
How do I report?
If you think that your landlord has breached these regulations you can report it to private sector housing team by email email@example.com or phone 01202 451083.
Page last updated: 23 June 2020