Legislation Bulletin: Smoke alarms & CO detectors

Later this year we will see change to landlord legislation with reference to smoke alarms and CO detectors.

Current legislation is part of The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015, which states that CO detectors are required in “any room, used wholly or partly as living accommodation, with a solid fuel burning combustion appliance”. Broken down, this means something that burns wood/coal/kindling, or open fireplaces (or similar), for which a CO detector is necessary. This is not applicable to decorative or non-functioning fireplaces.

Additionally, smoke alarms are required on every storey which is occupied as living accommodation (for this purpose bathrooms and toilets count as living accommodation, even if they are the only room on an additional floor).

From October 1st 2022, the amended rules stipulate that landlords (or managing agents) must also provide CO detectors by gas fires and also gas boilers, in addition to the previous requirements, and that, while smoke alarms should continue to be provided at the same points as before, when their batteries die or they become faulty, it will be the landlord’s responsibility to repair/replace as necessary, not the tenant’s.

Since 2015 we have been ensuring that our entire rental portfolio adheres to this fire and gas safety legislation, and in fact have been placing a CO detector by all gas boilers as standard. As a result, we have been years ahead of the game and so our clients are already prepared for these upcoming changes.

However, the change of responsibility from tenant to landlord/agent on replacing a battery or faulty smoke detector is new. Across our portfolio, we already have an agreement in place with our inventory partner to complete a smoke alarm check during every check-in, and in addition we perform this check during our interim property inspections.

To reduce the call-out maintenance costs of sending a handyman to replace batteries on a regular basis, we advise our landlords to either invest in mains-operated alarms so that a battery is only required as a backup. Where this is not possible, our recommendation for battery powered smoke alarms is to use Fire Angel Smoke Alarms, in particular their range which boasts a battery life rating of 10 years and therefore will rarely require replacement.