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Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations for Landlords in London

By Maurice Shasha  //  Mon 7th November 2022
As a landlord, you have a clear legal duty to protect your tenants from the risks of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning - both of which can have devastating consequences.
Smoke alarm regulations for landlords

Installing smoke alarms is one of the simplest things you can do to save lives - plus you are legally obliged to ensure your rental property is properly protected by them.

It’s important to understand the current smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector regulations for landlords. However, fire regulations for rental properties can change at any time, and ignorance is no excuse in law! Keep on top of any changes by regularly checking the and London Fire Brigade websites, as well as that of your local council - for any regulations specific to privately-rented housing in your borough.

What are the rules about smoke alarms in rental properties?

There are different smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector regulations for single households and houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).

Smoke alarms – single household

The regulations in England require private landlords to install at least one smoke alarm on each storey of a property, in which there is a room used as living accommodation.

This is the minimum required but the more alarms you install, the safer your property will be for your tenants – by giving them a few extra seconds to escape a fire, which could make all the difference.

The alarms must be in proper working order at the beginning of each new tenancy. You are not responsible for testing the alarms or replacing batteries during the tenancy. You should remind your tenant that they must check the smoke alarms monthly and report any issues found to you as soon as possible.

Smoke alarms in HMOs

The fire safety regulations are more stringent for HMOs. This is because research has shown that the risks are higher when unrelated people live together. HMO fire regulations vary from one local authority to another - so it’s essential you check the rules in your area.

At the very minimum, an HMO of one or two storeys will require an appropriate mains-powered, interconnected smoke alarm system plus an additional interlinked heat alarm, fitted with integral battery back-up and located in the kitchen.

HMOs of three or more storeys should be fitted with a mains-powered system with a central panel and a heat alarm in the kitchen.

A fire risk assessment must also be carried out in the communal parts of HMOs. If you do not feel qualified to perform this assessment yourself, engage a professional. Fire safety is such an important issue that nothing should be left to chance.

Carbon monoxide alarm requirements

Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed in all rooms that feature a solid fuel-burning appliance - such as a log or coal fire or wood burning stove. If your property has a gas appliance, carbon monoxide detectors are also highly recommended.

Even if your property doesn’t have a solid fuel or gas appliance, carbon monoxide detectors are still advisable, particularly if the property is a flat in a larger building, where you have no control over the other units.

What type of alarm should I fit?

The regulations do not stipulate the type of alarm you should fit (ie hard wired or battery powered). You should make an informed decision and choose the best alarm for your property and tenants.

Battery-operated alarms are quicker and cheaper to fit than mains alarms, however they rely on your tenants changing the batteries if needed and only sound in one area.

Mains-operated alarms are hard-wired into the power supply. They switch to battery supply in the event of a power cut. Batteries will need to be replaced from time to time but less frequently.

Networked mains-operated alarms save lives as one alarm triggers the rest, so every occupant is alerted.

Where should I put my alarms?

At least one smoke alarm should be installed on every storey and a carbon monoxide alarm in every room containing a solid fuel burning appliance.

The smoke alarms should be audible throughout the property and positioned to maximise their potential to detect smoke. In general, smoke alarms should be fixed to the ceiling in a circulation space, such as a hall or a landing.

Carbon monoxide alarms are positioned at head height, either on a wall or shelf, approximately one to three metres from the potential source of carbon monoxide.

Checking smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

The regulations require landlords to ensure all alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy. After that, tenants should take responsibility for their own safety and test all alarms regularly. It is recommended that smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are tested monthly.

If tenants find their alarms are not working during the tenancy, they should either replace the batteries themselves or notify the landlord.

How can I prove I have checked the alarms?

Check the alarms as part of your inventory and asks the tenant to sign and confirm that the alarms have been tested and that they are happy everything is in working order.

My tenant will not allow access for an alarm test

If you wish to check the alarms, you should give your tenant 24 hours’ written notice. Your tenant does not have to give you access to check the alarms. While you must check that the smoke alarms are working correctly at the start of your tenancy, you are not required to test or replace the batteries during the tenancy. However, if you wish to check the alarms, and the tenant refuses access, protect yourself by keep a record of your correspondence.

Will I be fined if I do not fit an alarm for my tenants?

Your local authority is responsible for enforcing smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector regulations. If you fail to comply, it will usually issue a remedial notice requiring you to fit your alarms within 28 days. If you still don’t comply, the local authority can arrange for alarms to be fitted and fine you up to £5,000.

Do I need to install smoke alarms for existing tenants?

Yes, all rented properties need to follow the smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector regulations - if your property doesn’t, you should put this right as soon as possible.

Find out more

If you’re still confused about smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector regulations – or any other aspect of renting out property – speak to us today about our services for landlords in central London. 

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