1. What is the landlord required to do?
The new regulations for smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors came into force on the 1st of October 2015. The government has published a handy notes for landlords;
- at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their rental property
- a carbon monoxide alarm must be installed in any room where solid fuel is used
After that, the landlord must make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy. Currently at Albert Grace Estates we find that recording the alarm on video and keeping the receipts after purchase is most effective.
The intention of the regulations is to increase the safety of private sector tenants.
- Who is responsible for checking alarms are working?
The regulations require landlords to ensure alarms are installed in their properties with effect from 1 October 2015. After that the landlord or agency must ensure all alarms are working at the start of each new tenancy.
After the landlord’s test on the first day of the tenancy, tenants should take responsibility for their own safety and test all alarms.
If tenants find that their alarms are not working during the tenancy, they should change the batteries or if the alarm is not working after replacing the batteries they should arrange a replacement with the landlord or agent.
3. Is there a flexibility for landlords?
Landlords are expected to be compliant. There is no flexibility when it comes to having smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in the properties.
If the authorities have reasonable grounds to believe the landlord have not complied with the regulations a notice will be issued, this will list the breach and required action that needs to be taken. If the landlord and agent can prove they have followed the rules and taken action within 28 days they will be excused, if not landlords can face fines up to £5,000.
4. Sometimes tenants are difficult, so what should you do?
The landlord or agent should write to the tenant to explain that it is a legal requirement to install the alarms and that it is for their own safety.
6. Can heat detectors be installed in place of smoke alarms?
No. Heat detectors are mainly used in the kitchen area but smoke alarms are used throughout the property.
Tenancies and Exemptions
7. Do the regulations apply to an existing tenancy?
Yes, all properties that do not have alarms must have them installed. If not landlords can face penalty charges of up to £5,000.
8. What tenancies will be affected?
Regulations apply to any tenancy, lease or licence of residential premises in England that gives somebody the right to occupy properties.
9. Are HMOs exempt from the regulations?
The regulations apply to unlicensed HMOs. Licensed HMOs are exempt from Parts 1 to 5 of the regulations because the regulations also amend the HMO licensing obligations in the Housing Act 2004.
10. Do the regulations apply to social housing landlords?
No, private rented sector properties have fewer working alarms installed than other types of housing tenancies.
11. Do the regulations apply to live-in landlords?
No. If the occupier shares the accommodation with the landlord regulations will not apply. A landlord is considered to share accommodation with the tenant if they share a kitchen or living room.
12. Is there any assistance for landlords?
Fire and rescue authorities have been asked to distribute the alarms and offer appropriate installation advice.
13. Can landlords appeal against the penalty charge notice?
If a landlord does not agree with the penalty charge notice, they can make a request to the local authority. The grounds for appeal are set out in regulation 11.
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