Smoke and carbon monoxide alarm rules extended

The UK Government has today, 23 November 2021, responded to its consultation on proposals to extend the rules for domestic smoke and carbon monoxide alarms within all rented accommodation in England.

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Following parliamentary approval both social and private rented sector (PRS) landlords will be legally required to repair or replace smoke and carbon monoxide alarms once they have been informed that they are faulty, although testing throughout the duration of a tenancy will remain the resident's responsibility. 

Key changes to installation

All landlords will also now be obliged to ensure a carbon monoxide alarm is installed in any room of their homes where there is a fixed combustion appliance (including a gas boiler). Where a new fixed combustion appliance is installed a carbon monoxide alarm will be required to be installed by law. Gas cooker appliances are excluded from the new rules.

The key changes are:

  • smoke alarms will be mandatory in all social rented homes
  • carbon monoxide alarms will be mandatory in rooms with a fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers) in both private and social rented homes.
  • carbon monoxide alarms will also be mandatory upon installation of any heating appliance (excluding gas cookers) in all tenures through building regulations
  • landlords will be expected to repair or replace alarms once informed that they are faulty

The UK Government will also amend the statutory guidance (Approved Document J) supporting Part J of the Building Regulations relating to where alarms are fitted and to ensure that alarms meet relevant standards. As soon as parliamentary time allows, the UK Government will amend the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015.

Propertymark update

Carbon Monoxide Alarm regulations

Propertymark responded to the consultation in January supporting the proposal to extend the smoke alarm requirements as set out in the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 to the social rented sector. 

We also agree with the proposal that legislation should be amended to create an obligation for private landlords to replace alarms once informed that they are faulty. However, if the alarm is battery operated the tenant should replace the batteries during the tenancy. 

To further improve the regulations, we have long held the view that allowing agents to test alarms before the start of a new tenancy would provide some leeway for those landlords that have multiple properties and agents who can be managing multiple check-ins on the same day.

However, it is a concern that it is not practical to expect agents to undertake the testing on the first day of the tenancy and the rules should be amended so this takes place prior to the commencement of the tenancy.

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19 Jan 2021
Domestic smoke and carbon monoxide alarms: proposals to extend regulations

We argued in our response that the rules should be amended so that landlords and agents ensure alarms are tested before the tenancy starts—not on the day the tenancy begins.

Propertymark maintains that a proper lead-in time is needed for any changes to regulations because greater flexibility on the time frame for implementing legislation ensures that the sector is less likely to fall foul of the regulations as landlords and letting agents will have a realistic period of time to both be informed of regulations and also to ensure they are able to comply.

The revisions to the smoke and carbon monoxide detector regulations are both welcome and necessary to improve tenant safety. 

Private landlords have been required since 2015 to provide working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors where applicable in rented property, and the extension of the regulations to encompass gas boilers is a sensible amendment. 

Propertymark has long called for tenants to receive the same level of protection, irrespective of tenure, and these changes go some way to rectifying that.

Timothy Douglas
Timothy Douglas Policy and Campaigns Manager | Propertymark