As a landlord do I have to provide smoke alarms?
It is a requirement of the law for landlords to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties. This came into effect in October 2015 and is there to ensure the safety of tenants. It is therefore extremely important that landlords are aware of the requirements and responsibilities.
Do I need to ensure that they are working before a tenant moves in?
Yes, landlords are responsible to test the smoke and fire alarms before a tenant moves in to a property, especially a carbon monoxide alarm. A carbon monoxide alarm is only required in a room used as limited accommodation that uses solid fuel. The landlord has to check these at the start of every new tenancy to ensure that they work.
Does the tenant have any responsibility for the fitted smoke alarms?
Yes, from the first day of the tenancy, the tenant is responsible to change the batteries required in the smoke alarms. It is for the tenant to replace these and to ensure that they do not tamper or hinder these at any point.
Are carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms both necessary?
The regulations state to install smoke alarms on every storey. Also that a carbon monoxide detector be installed in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance. Carbon Monoxide detectors are not a replacement for smoke alarms, they are an addition.
Also, gas appliances can emit carbon monoxide. So we would expect and encourage reputable landlords to fit carbon monoxide alarms in rooms that have gas powered appliances. For example a kitchen or utility room.
Where should the alarms be fitted and situated?
Unfortunately the regulations do not stipulate the ideal alarm placement. Just that at least one smoke alarm should be on every storey. Also that a carbon monoxide detector should be in every room containing a solid burning fuel appliance. We would suggest to follow the individual manufacturer’s instructions when installing the alarm. In general it is best to fit smoke alarms to the ceiling in a circulation space i.e. a hallway or landing. Carbon monoxide detectors should be fitted at head height on either a wall or shelf. They should also be between one to three metres from the potential source of the carbon monoxide.
It is absolutely critical that landlords understand their liabilities and responsibilities when renting a property. They need to ensure that the property is compliant with all requirements of the law especially when it comes to health and safety. Landlords aren’t often aware that they can even go to prison for manslaughter if a tenant dies due to a property fault. It sounds a bit dramatic but it has happened. We would suggest that you speak to a professional in the event that you aren’t aware of what the regulations are.