Some Dunstable & Leighton Buzzard landlords still do not comply with the regulations regarding Smoke alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors in rental properties !
The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 came into force on the 1st October 2015 and 3 years later I am still surprised at the number of properties I am asked to manage for a private landlord where I find they are not aware or have not complied with the regulations and therefore risk a £5000 fine and more to the point the safety of their tenants.
Before the 1st October 2015 there was no requirement for a smoke alarm to be fitted in a residential rental property unless it was a HMO although I always insisted on at least one smoke alarm being fitted in every property we rented for a landlord. Sometimes I would have to fit them myself on the day a tenant moved in.
The new legislation was very welcome and the requirement is for a smoke alarm to be fitted on each floor of a property. These do not have to be hard wired into the electrical system although all new properties built since 1992 and fi you have had any building work carried out requiring Building Regulations such as an extension it has been a requirement.
At the time we were expecting the installation of Carbon Monoxide (Co2) alarms to be included in the legislation for all properties with gas appliances. When the regulations were announced the requirements for Co2 alarms were only for properties with solid fuel appliances such as log burners and open fires which I feel was a serious shortfall in the legislation..
When I first meet a landlord at a property with gas appliances I will suggest the installation of a Co2 alarm for the tenant’s safety if there are gas appliances/boilers. I do expect that within the next 2 years the installation of Co2 alarms will become mandatory.
So who is responsible for the Smoke Alarms before and during a tenancy?
The legislation states that the landlord/agent must have proof that the smoke alarms were installed and working on the day the tenancy started. Some agents will have an inventory carried out before a tenancy sometimes days before and on the inventory it will state that there are smoke alarms and they are working. This is not enough to satisfy the legislation and when a tenant moves into one of our properties we meet them at the property on the day to take meter readings, hand over the keys and check the smoke alarms all of which the tenants confirm on the checkin sheet.
When the tenants have moved into a property it is there responsibility to test the smoke alarms and change the batteries when required. I will check the smoke alarms are still functioning when I carry out a visit to a property and am surprised at how many tenants remove batteries when the alarms start beeping because the battery is running low. They then close the alarm cover and forget to replace the battery. I try and educate them to leave the cover open so they remember to replace the battery and to do so as soon as possible for their own safety. I also carry spare batteries so before I leave a property being inspected I can replace the battery myself and leave knowing that the smoke alarms are working again. Of course if the smoke alarms are faulty it is the landlords responsibility to replace them.
I have been told that in Australia before you can sell a property you must have a hard wired smoke alarm fitted.
Where should you install carbon monoxide detectors, particularly how high off the floor?
Carbon Monoxide Alarms can be placed at any height on a wall or ceiling. It is a common misunderstanding that Carbon Monoxide Alarms must be placed near the ground to accurately detect levels of CO. In truth, Carbon Monoxide is roughly the same weight as air, and distributes evenly throughout a room. This means a CO detector can be placed at any height on a wall or ceiling. It is important to keep in mind that the CO Alarm must be placed in an area that allows for the siren to be heard. As Carbon Monoxide moves freely through the air, the Alarm must not be located near a ceiling fan, or blocked by furniture in order to detect CO levels accurately. Be sure to keep your Carbon Monoxide Alarm clean, and out of the way of children or pets.
If you would like me to check that you are compliant with all legislation including smoke alarms, Co2 alarms, electrical safety, deposit money, Right to Rent checks etc please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Daniel Bourke is the owner of Belvoir Lettings Dunstable and in his previous career in Architecture he was an Associate in a leading London Architectural practice