5 things private landlords need to know about the new changes

From 1 October 2022 the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations in England will change. Private landlords will be required to comply with the new obligations from this date. Below are 5 key things private landlords need to know about the new regulations.

  1. Carbon monoxide alarms will now be needed in more rental properties

At present, under the existing 2015 Smoke and Carbon Monoxide (Alarm) Regulations landlords must install a carbon monoxide alarm in any room which is used wholly or partly as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel appliance, for example an open coal fire or log burning stove. This requirement is being extended so that from 1 October 2022 landlords will be required to provide carbon monoxide alarms in any room with a fixed combustion appliance. This will bring gas appliances such as gas boilers within the remit of the regulations, however, gas cookers are expressly excluded. This means that most properties save for those powered solely by electricity are likely to need carbon monoxide alarms.

  1. Landlords will now be responsible for repairing and replacing faulty alarms throughout the tenancy

Again, the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations are being extended by placing the responsibility on landlords to repair or replace faulty alarms throughout the tenancy. Under the current rules, after the landlord’s test at the beginning of the tenancy, responsibility passes to the tenants to carry out ongoing tests and arrange the replacement of batteries or faulty alarms with the landlord. This will no longer be the case and landlords will be under a new obligation to repair or replace any alarm found not to be in proper working order. The legal obligation will be triggered following receipt of a report from a tenant or their nominated representative. Once such a report is made, the landlord is under an obligation to determine whether the alarm is in working order and carry out any required repair or replacement as soon as reasonably practicable. What is “reasonably practicable” is not defined in the regulations but given the safety implications of a faulty alarm system it would be advisable for landlords to act promptly. The explanatory memorandum to the regulations state that local authorities should make “reasonable judgements” and consider factors such as the local availability of alarms, the granting of access by occupiers and any exceptional circumstances that have resulted in delays. Any difficulties in gaining access to properties to check the alarms and carry out repairs should be noted so that landlords have records if they are asked to justify the speed within which they responded to a report.

  1. Tenants will still need to report faulty alarms

When the rules change, tenants will no longer be responsible for arranging repairs or replacement of fire and carbon monoxide alarms. However, tenants are still required to notify landlords of the need to repair or replace alarms as it is this report to the landlord or their agent that triggers the duty to repair or replace the alarm as soon as they are found to be faulty.

  1. There are still tough sanctions for a breaching the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations but local authorities must consider a landlord’s written representations

As is the case under the current rules, if landlords do not comply with their duties set out in the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations, the local authority can serve a remedial notice on the landlord. A failure to comply with a remedial notice can lead to the local authority carrying out remedial works and imposing a financial penalty of up to £5,000. The new regulations, however, change the procedure in relation to the service of remedial notices. From 1 October 2022, local authorities will be under a new duty to consider written representations made by a landlord in response to a remedial notice. While the local authority is considering the representations the remedial notice is suspended until the local authority informs the landlord of its decision to either confirm the remedial notice or withdraw it.

  1. HMO and other property licence conditions will also be amended to reflect the changes

Where the property requires an HMO licence or a selective licence the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulation’s requirements are set out in the licence conditions. There are mandatory conditions in HMO and selective licences that incorporate the duties set out in the smoke and carbon monoxide alarm regulations. The new regulations will therefore change the mandatory conditions in licences to reflect the new provision that carbon monoxide alarms must be installed in any room with a fixed combustion appliance (gas cookers excluded). Again, this will only apply to property licences in England and the conditions will only apply to licences that are granted on or after the 1 October 2022.