Putting solid safety measures in place is good for everyone. Both landlords and tenants can sleep well at night knowing there are working safety alarms in their property that will warn of any danger.

There’s no doubt about it; working alarms save lives. If there was a fire in your home, it’s said you’re at least four times more likely to die if there’s no working smoke alarm.

Since the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 came into force on 1 October 2015, it’s a legal requirement for private landlords in England to fit smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. This means privately rented properties are now in line with building regulations that require newly-built homes to have hard-wired smoke alarms fitted.

Are smoke and carbon monoxide alarms the landlord’s responsibility?

Yes, and no. Yes, the landlord has to make sure the alarms are working on the first day of the tenancy (even if the tenant decides to move in after that date). After that, it’s the responsibility of the tenants to check – ideally every month – they’re working properly.

Is it illegal not to have a smoke and carbon monoxide alarms?

Yes, it is.

Are there penalties?

Fail to install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and landlords in England could face up to a £5,000 civil penalty, imposed by the local housing authority. If they disagree with the penalty charge notice, they can ask the relevant local authority to review it.

At worst, landlords may go to prison for breaking the law. A landmark British case in 2018 saw a landlord jailed for a year following the death of two young brothers from a fire in a Huddersfield home that his property company managed.

The West Yorkshire Police Detective Superintendent dealing with the tragedy said: “We hope that this case is a stark reminder to landlords and letting agents to treat their responsibilities seriously and they have an obligation to ensure that all properties are fully equipped with all adequate safety measures to ensure the safety of their tenants.”

Where should the alarms be placed?

The regulations don’t state where the alarms should be go, just that at least one smoke alarm should be on every storey, and a carbon monoxide alarm in every room with a solid fuel-burning appliance in it, such as an open fire. A purely decorative fireplace doesn’t count.

However, as gas appliances can emit carbon monoxide, we encourage landlords to ensure that working carbon monoxide alarms are installed in any room with a gas appliance in it.

In general, smoke alarms are best fixed to the ceiling in a hallway or a landing, and carbon monoxide alarms at head height, either on a wall or shelf, about one to three metres from a potential source of carbon monoxide.

London Fire Brigade strongly recommend an additional heat detector in the kitchen.Your local fire and rescue authority may be able to offer extra advice, or you can download fire safety information from www.gov.uk/firekills.

Do rental properties need hard-wired smoke alarms?

The regulations don’t specify what type of alarm should be fitted. That said, Howsy believes the best option would be a hard-wired type. If opting for stand-alone ones, we recommended getting the models with a 10-year battery life.

If the occupier shares the accommodation with the landlord or landlord’s family, the 2015 regulations don’t apply.

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