Home Front logoQ.  What is the current status surrounding Landlords fitting smoke alarms in residential rental properties? I hear there is some new legislation about to be passed?


A.  The Government announced on March 11 that it would be applying powers it had taken to itself to require smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to be fitted in residential property. However, they did not make clear in that announcement what powers they were proposing to utilise, and this is where the uncertainty of what is actually required amongst Landlords arises as the Order did not specify the type of alarm or penalty! On March 11, landlords were left with a legal obligation to fit an alarm of an unspecified type in an unspecified place with an uncertain penalty for not doing so. This however is about to change as the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 are now available, albeit only in draft form at this stage. These regulations set the alarm requirement, the penalty process, and the level of penalty. The obligation applies to all residential landlords in the private rented sector. Longer leases of over seven years and accommodation shared with the landlord is excluded. The obligation is to fit a smoke alarm on each storey of the property that is adapted or used as residential accommodation and also to fit a carbon monoxide alarm in any room which contains a solid fuel appliance. The problem is there is no definition of what constitutes a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm, by reference to a British Standard or to anything else. In reference to carbon monoxide alarms, the requirement is the same as the one that already exists under the Building Regulations. Where a local authority believes a landlord is not in complying, then it is obligated within 21 days to serve a remedial notice on him. If such a notice is served, then the landlord has 28 days to make representations to the local authority. Irrespective of those representations, the landlord is required to comply with the notice within the same 28-day period. If the landlord does not comply then the local authority is obligated within 28 days of becoming satisfied that the notice has not been complied with to arrange its own action. The local authority is also empowered to serve a penalty notice on the landlord, within six weeks of becoming aware that he has not complied with a remedial notice, requiring him to pay a penalty of up to £5,000. Given this update and although only in draft form at the moment I would urge all Landlords that don’t already have alarms fitted to comply now and fit alarms to ensure you are ready when the legislation is passed.