The Government has announced that a new law requiring all rental properties to have a working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms installed will come into force in October this year.
Currently there are no legal obligations for landlords to provide smoke alarms in single occupancy rented homes; they are only mandatory in Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) which are commonly considered to be a greater fire risk.
Communities Minister Stephen Williams said “We’re determined to create a bigger, better and safer private rented sector – a key part of that is to ensure the safety of tenants with fire prevention and carbon monoxide warning. People are at least 4 times more likely to die in a fire in the home if there’s no working smoke alarm.”
The new law will require smoke alarms to be fitted on every floor of a rental property and carbon monoxide alarms in rooms that present a high risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, such as those containing solid fuel heating systems, e.g. wood or coal fires.
Landlords who do not meet the minimum requirements and fail to comply with a remedial notice within 28 days will face fines of up to £5,000. To assist with the implementation of these new rules, the Government is also providing £3 million of funding for 445,000 smoke alarms and 40,000 carbon monoxide alarms. Each of England’s 46 fire and rescue authorities will be responsible for distributing the free alarms to private landlords. It will be at each authority’s discretion to determine their own arrangements for the distribution of the alarms between now and when the regulations come into force in October.
Agents should advise their landlords of the upcoming requirements and make them aware of the penalties if they don’t comply. Not only are the alarms essential to protecting their tenants safety and wellbeing, but they can also help to protect their investment. As an early warning system, smoke alarms may prove invaluable to limiting fire damage to the property if it is detected and contained quickly.
The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 has been laid before the House of Commons, and is currently awaiting parliamentary approval. It has gathered strong support after a period of consultation and is likely to come into force on 10th October. The regulations will require all landlords to ensure alarms are installed in their rental properties and make sure they are working before the start of every tenancy. Tenants will however continue to be responsible for regularly checking the alarms for the duration of their tenancy.