Everything you need to know about smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

There has been an update regarding the carbon monoxide and smoke alarm guidance and the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) is here to provide all the information you need to remain compliant.

The current regulation states that landlords must have a single smoke alarm fitted per storey and a carbon monoxide alarm where there is a solid fuel appliance, such as an open fire.

The new regulations are an updated version of the existing Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 which has now been updated by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and the new changes came into effect on 1 October 2022.

Which revisions do you need to be aware of?

From the due date, landlords will find themselves with increased responsibilities around the provision of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms within their properties.

A remedial notice will be introduced alongside the update, with fines of up to £5,000 for non-compliance.

Since October, landlords have the duty of equipping any room used as living accommodation containing a fixed combustion appliance, i.e., boilers with a carbon monoxide alarm. Gas cookers are exempted from this although it is also best practise to install these even if they aren’t legislated.

Meanwhile, once a tenant notifies their landlord that a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm is faulty, any non-operational smoke or carbon monoxide alarms must be repaired or replaced ‘as soon as practically possible’. This is one of the most significant changes to come about, whereas previously it was only necessary to ensure they worked at the start of the tenancy.

What type of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are required?

There aren’t any specific regulations that state which type of alarms must be installed, such as hard wired or battery powered. If you have a battery powered alarm or you have plans on purchasing one, make sure that the alarm you choose is equipped with ‘sealed for life’ batteries rather than alarms with replaceable batteries since this is the preferred option.

It is, however, recommended that landlords make an informed decision and opt for alarms based on the individual needs of their property and their tenants. The only known requirements are that smoke alarms are compliant with British Standards BS 5839-6, and carbon monoxide alarms with BS 50291.

Who does this apply to?

Currently, the amendments only apply to England and involves all tenancies presently in place, which also includes both private and social landlords. There are some tenancies that are exempted, such as shared accommodation with a landlord or landlord’s family, long leases, and student halls of residence.

According to the government’s guidance, unlicensed HMOs will be affected by the changes; however, 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 implement similar requirements.

It will be up to the tenants to report any faulty devices to the landlord or agent, and it will therefore be their responsibility to test their alarms throughout the duration of their tenancy.

Additionally, clerks in particular, should make sure the ‘expiry date’ is written on the alarms because this information is rarely included as standard on the alarm itself.

The government states that the new updated regulations, which will now be known as Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (Amendment) Regulations 2022, should be considered alongside other relevant laws on carbon monoxide and fire safety in rented accommodation. These include:

How do landlords prove the alarms have been tested?

As with the previous regulation, alarms should be tested at the start of the tenancy and it’s the landlord’s responsibility to keep a well-documented record of when alarms are tested thereafter.

As always, an inventory and check-in should be arranged at the start of the tenancy which will include smoke and carbon monoxide alarm testing. The report will set out the condition of the alarms, and the tenant should sign this if they are satisfied that they are in good working order.

As an agent or landlord, you want to protect your investments and establish smooth transitions from one tenant to the next. Here at AIIC, we are dedicated to promoting the highest possible standards of accuracy and reliability in the inventory process and have been endorsing high levels of professionalism in the inventory business since 1996.

It is our mission to ensure proper information and training is provided and our bank of highly skilled members will provide the best possible service. For more information, please contact us or search for your local AIIC member clerk now.

You can also download a copy of our Code of Practice and Guidelines for Professional Practice guide here.

Published on 28/10/2022