Landlords, did you know that the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 came into force as of 1st October 2016.
For those landlords who have not yet taken steps to ensure compliance with the new rules, now is the time to undertake urgent inspections of your rental properties and ensure that they are fitted with functioning smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
Remember, failure to comply will leave you exposed to remedial and penalty charge notices, which can result in fines of up to £5,000.00 per property!
So, what do the 'Regulations' say?
Firstly, Smoke alarms must be fitted on each storey of a property where there is a room used as living accommodation. This includes bathrooms.
Carbon monoxide alarms must also be fitted in any room which is used as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance. This means appliances that are powered using a type of solid fuel, such as coal or wood.
Checks must be made to ensure that each prescribed alarm is in proper working order on the day the tenancy begins if it is a new tenancy.
Take “all reasonable steps”
A landlord can not be held liable for a fine if they can show that they have taken "all reasonable steps" to comply with the duty.
After the initial testing, tenants should then take responsibility for their own safety and test all alarms regularly to make sure they are in working order.
Monthly tests are generally considered an appropriate frequency for smoke alarms.
If your tenant has denied access to the property, the Government does have recommendations in place. It is advisable to write to the tenant to explain that it is a legal requirement to install the alarms and that it is for the tenant’s own safety.
The UK Fire Service Resources Group reports that, every year, the Fire Services are called to over 600,000 fires which result in over 800 deaths and over 17,000 injuries. Their statistics show that people are “twice as likely to die in a house fire that has no smoke alarm than a house that does”.
They also estimate that there are 50 deaths and over 1,100 annual admissions into hospital as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The legislation is in place for a reason. Many of these injuries and fatalities might have been avoided if an adequate warning system was installed.
Our advice to landlords is not only to comply with the Regulations but to be sure to keep a detailed account of any steps taken to comply –i.e. purchasing and instillation of alarms, dates of inspections to show that you have taken all reasonable steps.
For more information visit www.alarms4life.com. Here, you can find practical tips, including details of local fire and rescue authorities and information regarding applying for free alarms.
The Government has also issued guidance, download the explanatory booklet for Landlords for more information.