New Smoke Alarm Regulations For Rental Properties - Came into force on 1 October

All private landlords are required to comply with the new Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations which came into force on 1 October. The Regulations also cover licensed and unlicensed Houses of Multiple Occupation. However, social landlords are currently exempt from the Regulations.

Landlords must provide a smoke alarm on every storey of a property (which includes lofts or cellars if these areas have been converted to living accommodation).

Landlords must also provide a carbon monoxide alarm for every room which 'is used wholly or partly as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel combustion appliance'. As the vast majority of properties have gas central heating this requirement will affect fewer landlords. At the moment, there is no regulation for providing carbon monoxide alarms in properties with gas combustion appliances. However, it would be good practice to install an alarm where there is a gas boiler. Carbon monoxide is a “silent killer” as it is invisible and has no smell. Although landlords are already obliged to have a yearly check carried out on any gas appliances, this alone cannot guarantee protection from carbon monoxide. The cost of an alarm may be a small price to pay to avoid the risk of death.

Landlords are also now required to inspect and test the alarms installed in their properties each time there is a new tenancy (excluding renewals) and then periodically.

The Local Authority will “police” the new Regulations. If a landlord fails to comply then the Local Authority is required to serve a remedial notice stating that they require compliance within the next 28 days. If the landlord complies with the notice then no further action or penalty will apply. Failure to comply will leave landlords facing a penalty of up to £5000.

One problem a landlord may face is difficulty gaining access to a property for installation of the alarms and, later, the inspections. Landlords frequently find themselves in this scenario when they attempt to carry out gas safety checks. Landlords should tell the tenant about the new Regulations and make it clear that s/he must provide access under the terms of the tenancy agreement.  If the landlord has made a few appointments to access the property and the tenant still denies access then the landlord can issue a county court application for an injunction to force the tenant to provide access.

The important message to take away is that landlords must ensure that they have complied with the Regulations and, if not, they must comply immediately to avoid enforcement action.

Posted on 10/07/2015 by Ortolan

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