Housing Act

Changes to the Housing Act introduced in October 2015 relating to Smoke and Carbon Monoxide alarms and placement.

The Changes

From the 1st October 2015 regulations require both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms to be installed in rented residential accommodation. Changes are also made to the licence requirements in relation to houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), such as shared houses and bedsits which require a license and also in relation to properties which are subject to selective licencing. The regulations apply both to houses and flats. Failure to comply can lead to a civil penalty being imposed of up to £5,000.

Requirements for smoke alarms

Landlords must ensure that a smoke alarm is equipped on each storey of the premises on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation. A living room will include a lounge dining room and kitchen as well as a bathroom or toilet. It also includes a hall or landing. This means that a smoke alarm must be provided in working order on each storey. Since the regulation relates to each storey in the premises this suggests that a separate alarm is not needed on a half landing as these would not be regarded as individually being a storey. As regards individual flats located on one floor then there will have to be at least one alarm within the flat itself or alternatively are provided outside the flat on the same floor of the building, i.e. a communal alarm.

Likewise, for flats comprising more than one storey there will need to be a smoke alarm on each floor. It is the location of an alarm which sounds which is crucial: not the positioning of detectors.

The regulations do not stipulate what kind of alarm is required. Ideally it should be a hard wired alarm system. It can, however, be a single standalone alarm. Landlords are recommended by the RLA to fit ten year long life tamper proof alarms, otherwise there is a problem of batteries being taken out and not being replaced.

Requirements for Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Likewise, when the premises are occupied under a tenancy or a licence a carbon monoxide alarm must be provided by the landlord In any room in premises which is used wholly or partly as living accommodation which contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance. This applies to any kind of wood burning stove or an open coal fire. It will also extend equipemtn such as a solid fuel Aga in the kitchen. This is already a requirement with new installations of a solid fuel burning combustion appliances as under building regulations there is a requirement to install a carbon monoxide alarm. This is now extended to any existing appliances already in place before building regulations imposed this requirement or where building regulations are not observed.