New Rules on Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms from October 2015

October 2015

On 1 October The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 came into force. These Regulations affect landlords of residential premises in England. Landlords and letting agents should carry out an audit of their properties to determine whether they already comply with the Regulations or whether new alarms need to be installed. The key features of the Regulations are explored below.

What kinds of tenancies are affected by the Regulations?

The Regulations apply where residential premises are let on a tenancy. They do not apply to leases for a term of 7 years or more and they do not apply where the tenant shares accommodation with the landlord. There are other exceptions for HMOs (which have their own rules about alarms), student halls, hostels and care homes.

When must I comply?

The new rules apply from 1 October 2015 to any premises that are occupied under a tenancy.

What do I need to do to comply with the Regulations?

Landlords must ensure that:

• A smoke alarm is equipped on each storey of the premises containing a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation (this includes bathrooms and toilets).

• A carbon monoxide alarm is equipped in any room used wholly or partly as living accommodation that contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance.

• Checks are made by the landlord or their agent to ensure that each alarm is in proper working order on the day a new tenancy begins.

What are the penalties for non-compliance?

Local housing authorities are required to serve remedial notices on landlords who are in breach of the duties referred to above. If a landlord does not comply with the remedial notice the local housing authority will arrange for the remedial work to be done and may charge the landlord a penalty up to £5,000.

Help for landlords and agents

Landlords and agents should make sure that all properties in their portfolio comply with the Regulations.

We have updated our Letting Agency Terms and Conditions and Appointment Forms to include reference to the Regulations. The landlord is made aware of their duties under the Regulations and the Agent is required to check the alarms on the first day of a new tenancy.

We have also updated our Residential Tenancy Agreements. Landlords undertake to comply with the Regulations and tenants are required to test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms once a month, change batteries as necessary and report any issues to the landlord.

To assist landlords and agents in demonstrating compliance with the testing requirements, we have added letters for the landlord or agent to give to the tenant confirming that testing has taken place.

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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