Smoke and carbon monoxide law changes vital for landlords

24 October 2022

Nyree Applegarth, a Partner and Head of Property Disputes at Higgs LLP, looks at the implications of new smoke and carbon monoxide regulations on private and social housing landlords.

At the start of this month, the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (Amendment) Regulations 2022 came into force.

There are some significant changes which landlords should be aware of and giving serious thought to, with a fine of up to £5,000 the potential punishment for any breach.

There are three notable strands to the new legislation.

Firstly, at least one smoke alarm must be installed on each floor where a room is being used as living accommodation.

While this was an existing requirement for private landlords, it has now also been extended for social housing.

In addition, a carbon monoxide alarm should be installed in any room that is used as living accommodation which contains a fixed combustion appliance, such as gas or oil boilers.

Finally, landlords must take action to repair or replace smoke and carbon monoxide alarms which are faulty.

While there are no specific regulations on which alarms should be fitted, there is certain criteria which must be adhered to.

Smoke alarms should comply with British Standards BS 5839-6 and carbon monoxide alarms must meet with the British Standards BS 50291.

The government has recommended that landlords should use alarms with ‘sealed for life’ batteries, as opposed to replaceable batteries. Where batteries become faulty, tenants should replace them and if the alarm still does not operate, they should make their landlord aware. 

It is also recommended that landlords provide their tenants with a demonstration and/or instructions on how to test the alarms to ensure they are in working order.

General advice states that smoke alarms should be fixed to the ceiling or in a circulation space, such as a hall or landing. Carbon monoxide alarms must be positioned at head height, and at least one to three metres away from any potential source of carbon monoxide.

There are exemptions for the above regulations which apply to tenancies covering long leases, student halls of residence, care homes and shared accommodation with a landlord.

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