Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms
is a legal requirement for all rental properties in England to adhere to the The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (Amendment) Regulations 2022 which come into force on 1 October 2022.
All landlords should fully understand these regulations and you (or your agent) should install new alarms, repair existing alarms and update property management practices now, ready for the 1 October 2022. There is no transitional period after 1 October 2022 and any landlord found to be in breach could be fined up to £5,00
Carbon monoxide alarms must be installed and in proper working order in any room used as living accommodation which contains a fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers). These appliances are generally powered by gas, oil, coal or wood, like gas or oil-burning boilers or a wood-burning stove. There should also be at least one smoke alarm on every floor of the property where a room is used or partly used as living accommodation.
Every alarm must be in proper working order on the first day of a new tenancy.
From 1 December 2022, all private rented homes in Wales will need to be fit for human habitation. These require a smoke alarm to be fitted on every storey of a property and to be in proper working order. The alarms must be connected to the electrical supply.
The new fit for human habitation regulations also requires landlords to ensure a carbon monoxide alarm is present in any room which has a gas, oil, or solid fuel burning appliance installed.
As the landlord, you (or your agent) should make sure that any solid fuel and oil heating installations are safe.
You should also carry out routine maintenance, including the sweeping of chimneys and flues. View the full guidance for landlords in Wales here.
Since February 2022, every home in Scotland must have interlinked fire alarms that all go off if one activates. Since 2019, the Scottish Government has provided further clarification on the location of alarms, which specifies that each home must have:
- One smoke alarm in the room that is used the most
- One smoke alarm in every circulation space on each storey, such as hallways and landings
- One heat alarm in every kitchen
- All alarms should be interlinked
- All alarms should be ceiling mounted
If a home has a room with a carbon-fuelled appliance, such as a boiler, fire, heater or flue, then that room must also have a carbon monoxide detector. This does not need to be linked to the fire alarms.
Additional guidance can be found here: Fire and smoke alarms: changes to the law - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)
Since 2012, carbon monoxide alarms have been a mandatory requirement for all homes where a new fossil fuel appliance is installed. At least one smoke alarm should be provided in entrances and corridors on each storey and in the main living room of a property. At least one heat alarm should be provided in every kitchen.
Under the Private Tenancies Act 2022, private landlords must ensure that a minimum of one fire, smoke and carbon monoxide alarm is insstalled within their property, and ensure they are in proper working order. Tenants must ensure that they take proper care of the appliances installed and repair any damage.
Future legislation will provide further details on the number, type and condition of appliances, along with where they should be installed; this is expected to be introduced in 2023.
Electrical safety obligations
In England, Wales and Scotland, you have a legal duty to ensure that any electrical items you have provided in your rental property are safe throughout a tenancy. As well as all appliances, you must also ensure all electrical systems such as sockets, switches and light fittings are safe.
The electrical safety standards for the private rented sector in England came into force on 1 June 2020 and applies to all new tenancies from 1 July 2020 and all existing tenancies from 1 April 2021. The regulation sets out new rules for landlords to ensure all fixed electrical installations are safe and maintained correctly.
Electrical safety for landlords in Scotland
It is a legal requirement for landlords to carry out electrical safety inspections for all new and existing tenancies. There are two parts that you are required to complete:
- inspection of installations, fixtures and fittings
- a record of testing of appliances
Tests must be carried out at least every five years by a competent person. After an inspection, you must provide a copy of the inspection document to your Tenants. When a new tenancy starts you must give a copy of the most recent inspection to the tenants. For electrical safety advice, see electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk
Electrical safety for landlords in WALES
From 15 July 2022 the Renting Homes (Wales) Act requires all rented properties to have periodic inspection and testing (PIT) of all electrical installations. Tests must be carried out at least every five years, producing an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR).
The current EICR must be made available to the tenant within seven days of their occupation date. Failure to comply to any of the regulations could result in prosecution. You can view the full guidance for landlords in Wales here.
Research has shown that more than one in three private landlords did not know it was their responsibility to get gas appliances checked. With this in mind, are you aware of your legal requirements concerning gas safety?
Legionnaires’ disease is a pneumonia-like infection commonly caused by the inhalation of small droplets of water contaminated with Legionella bacteria. Landlords must assess and control the risk of tenant's exposure to Legionella. Control measures include:
- Flushing out the water system before letting the property
- Ensuring cold water tanks have a tight lid to stop debris from getting into the system
- Setting control parameters to ensure water is stored at the correct temperature
- Removing unused pipework
You should inform your tenants about control measures they can do such as cleaning showerheads or running all the taps for five minutes if they've been away. Tell them to let you (or your agent) know if problems occur with the water system, or if the water's not heating properly.
You should keep any records of any legionella assessments and plan follow up checks to be carried out periodically. For more advice on controlling the risk of Legionella, visit the Health and Safety Executive.
Furniture and Furnishings
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 set levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture, furnishings and other products containing upholstery. All furnishings should pass the 'smouldering cigarette' and 'match flame' resistance test and carry a label confirming this.
Generally, items manufactured in the UK after 1990 meet the required standards and display the appropriate permanent label confirming their compliance. If items do not comply they should be removed from the property before it is let, unless they are deemed an exemption, e.g. furniture manufactured before 1950.
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