Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms

It is a legal requirement for all rental properties in England to follow the The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015. The regulations require that you install at least one smoke alarm on every floor of the property where a room is used or partly used as living accommodation.

Carbon monoxide alarms must also be installed in any room containing a solid fuel-burning appliance, such as a wood burner, coal fire or biomass. You (or your letting agent) must ensure that every alarm is in proper working order on the first day of a new tenancy. 

Properties built after 1992 must be fitted with mains-powered, interlinked smoke alarms on every floor of the property. In older properties, landlords are advised to provide at least battery-operated alarms. 

It is best practice for you to provide a carbon monoxide alarm in all rooms where a gas, oil or solid fuel appliance is present. 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.

You must ensure that all your rental properties have a carbon monoxide detector fitted regardless of when the tenancy started. You must have a long-life battery or mains-powered detector (which complies with British Standards and European directives) in each room housing a carbon-based fuel appliance (excluding those used solely for cooking) and in any living room or bedroom if a flue from these appliances runs through it.

By law, landlords must provide fire-detection equipment for each property and there should be at least:

  • One working smoke alarm in the room which is frequently used by tenants for daytime living purposes
  • One functioning smoke alarm in every circulation space, such as hallways and landings
  • One heat alarm in every kitchen
  • All alarms should be interlinked

Smoke alarms installed since 3 September 2007 must be mains powered, with all battery-powered fire alarms required to be hardwired when they are replaced. Take a look at the official Scottish Government guidance for more infomation.

Since October 2012, carbon monoxide (CO) alarms need to be installed when a combustion appliance is fitted. This requirement falls under the Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012.

Technical Booklet L of the regulations states: 'When a combustion appliance is installed in a dwelling, reasonable provision shall be made to detect and give warning of the presence of carbon monoxide gas at levels harmful to people.' 

Electrical safety obligations

In England 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. 

Electrical safety standards

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:

  1. inspection of installations, fixtures and fittings
  2. 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

Gas safety checks for landlords

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?

Legionella

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 (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988

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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