With effect from 1st October 2015, The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations came into force. All landlords owning and renting property in England need to be fully aware of their responsibilities to avoid potential prosecution as well as reducing the risk of potential Landlord Insurance claims.
What Are The Regulations?
The regulations place a clear onus on private sector landlords to ensure the installation of smoke alarms on every storey of their rental properties which are used as living accommodation.
Landlords are also required to ensure the installation of a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance; this would include items such as a wood-burning stove.
Post the original installation landlords must also ensure that the alarms are in good working order at the start of each new tenancy.
Why Was Regulation Required?
Legislation was introduced by the UK Government to reduce the risk of injury or death caused by smoke or carbon monoxide across the private rental property sector.
According to the Office for National Statistics, there are around 40 deaths from accidental Carbon monoxide poisoning each year across England and Wales and in excess of 200 non-fatal incidents requiring hospital treatment.
The Government estimates that, in 2015, there are over 350k private rental properties in England and Wales without a Carbon monoxide alarm.
What Type Of Tenancy Is Affected?
The regulations apply to all forms of tenancy that are leasehold or licence of residential premises in England that gives somebody the right to occupy all or part of the premises as his or her only or main residence in return for rent.
Are Any Tenancies Agreements Excluded?
Certain tenancies are excluded from the regulations, including shared accommodation with the landlord or landlord’s family (lodging), long leases, student halls of residence, hostels and refuges, care homes, hospitals and hospices, and other accommodation relating to healthcare provision.
When Are Alarms Required To Be Inspected?
Landlords must check that the required alarms are in good working order on the first day of any new tenancy beginning on or after 1st October 2015, and in any premises let under an existing tenancy before that date.
Is There A Penalty For Non-Compliance?
Local housing authorities have been given the responsibility for enforcing the regulations, and can levy a civil penalty charge on a private landlord of up to £5,000.
There is no prescribed or standard method for proving landlords’ compliance. One potential way is going through an inventory with tenants on the first day of their tenancies, asking them to sign a document confirming the inventory and that the required alarms have been tested and are in working order.
Where Can I Find More Information?
For more information and official guidance, landlords should consult the actual language of the regulations at www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/1693.
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