On 14 September 2015 the House of Lords debated and approved the new Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015. The Regulations will come into force on 1 October 2015. The House of Lords’ debate can be accessed here.

The Regulations impose duties on landlords of premises in the private rented sector to install and test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. They only apply to England. During the House of Lords debate it was said:

“Setting a minimum standard for the testing and installation of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms will reduce the risks that tenants face from fire and carbon monoxide poisoning in the home. We estimate that the new regulations will save 26 lives and nearly 700 injuries per year…. The regulations aim to save lives and not catch landlords out.”

Although there was criticism of the speed in which the Regulations were rushed through Parliament, the Regulations were approved by the Lords.

The duty in the draft regulations is as follows:

On or after 1 October 2015, a landlord of a private sector tenancy must ensure that a smoke alarm is fitted on each storey of the premises on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation. Further, a carbon monoxide alarm must be installed in any room which is used wholly or partly as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel appliance.

At the start of a new tenancy, the landlord or the landlord’s agent must carry out checks to ensure that each smoke and carbon monoxide alarm is in proper working order on the day the tenancy begins.  A new tenancy means a tenancy granted on or after 1 October 2015, but does not include renewals or statutory periodic tenancies arising from fixed term tenancies that commenced prior to this date.

Where a local authority has reasonable grounds to believe that a landlord is in breach of the regulations it must serve a remedial notice on the landlord within 21 days. Landlords will have 28 days in which to comply with the remedial notice otherwise they risk penalty charges. If the landlord does not comply then the local authority must, provided the occupier consents, arrange for the remedial action specified in the notice to be taken. The local authority can impose a monetary penalty up to £5,000 on a landlord who has failed to comply with the notice. 

These Regulations also amend the Housing Act 2004 in relation to licensed properties by making the requirements a mandatory condition of HMO and selective licences. The HMO management regulations already place a duty on HMO managers to ensure fire alarms are maintained in good working order and the property is fire safe. Now there will also be a mandatory condition in the licence itself specifying where smoke and carbon monoxide alarms must be installed. These conditions will only apply to licences granted or renewed after 1 October 2015.

From 1 October 2015 all landlords who let out their properties on assured shorthold tenancies must comply with these regulations. Failure to do so will result in local authority enforcement. Through funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government, fire authorities have been distributing free smoke and carbon monoxide alarms throughout the country to residential landlords. For further details on how to apply in London click here.