The countdown to alarm regulation begins

40% of fire deaths happen in properties without working smoke alarms, and around 40 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning, according to Government figures.

In light of these stark figures, it may come as no surprise that new regulations in England which are due to come into force next month stipulate that landlords in the private rented sector will have to fit their properties with both smoke alarms on each storey and carbon monoxide alarms for any houses or flats that use solid fuel heating system.

This follows from Building Regulations in England and Wales in 2010 which requires all new-build properties to have a hard wired smoke alarm on each floor.

The new regulation is part of wider measures to increase public safety, and will be supported by Fire and Rescue Authorities throughout England who will be providing free alarms to private landlords with grant funding from the government.

Specifically, the duties under the new regulations means landlords of residential premises must ensure that:

  • A smoke alarm is equipped on each storey of the premises which is wholly or partly used as living accommodation
  • A carbon monoxide alarm is equipped in any room which is used wholly or partly as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance
  • The smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in proper working order at the start of any new tenancy

Local housing authorities are responsible for enforcing the regulations, which can result in a fine of up to £5000 if not adhered to.

While the regulation currently only applies to England, the Welsh Government is expected to follow suit in due course. In Scotland, it is already a requirement for private landlords to provide fire-detection equipment for their properties, likewise in Northern Ireland but only in houses in multiple occupation.

It’s advised that any alarms purchased comply with BSEN Standards which have the BSI Kitemark and CE mark, and are installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions, ideally in the centre point of the ceiling.

Once tenants are in situ, the instruction or user guide should be included in the tenant’s information, and they should be encouraged to test the alarm on a weekly basis – checking the battery and replacing when necessary.

In the face of the following statistics provided by Goodpoint, the importance of this maintenance cannot be underplayed:

  • You are four times more likely to die in a house fire if you don’t have a working smoke alarm
  • Fire deaths have been halved since smoke alarms were introduced in the late 1970s
  • One in eight house fires that Fire and Rescue Services attend did not have a working smoke alarm

As well as becoming a mandatory requirement and potentially preventing fatalities, fitting your properties with smoke detectors could also lower your insurance premium.

More information on the new regulations can be found here. If you have any questions about your landlord insurance, talk to the team at C&M by calling 01708 764 000, or emailing us at mail@cm-insurance.co.uk.