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1 October 2015 deadline for installation of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

From 1 October 2015, landlords of residential properties must ensure that smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are installed in their properties. The obligations are contained in The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 (the Regulations).

Do the Regulations apply to all tenancies?

No, the Regulations only apply to tenancies of residential premises which give a right to a person, or persons, to occupy the premises as their only or main residence and provide for the payment of rent. Therefore, they do not apply, for example, to holiday lettings.

The Schedule to the Regulations also sets out a number of different types of tenancy that are not caught by the Regulations. These include where accommodation is shared with the landlord or the landlord's family.

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and selectively licensed residential properties are also treated differently to ordinary residential properties by the Regulations.

What does the landlord have to install?

From 1 October 2015, a landlord must ensure that any premises occupied under a tenancy are fitted with a smoke alarm on each storey of the premises on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation. Bathrooms and toilets are treated as rooms used as living accommodation. Therefore, a storey of a building which only contains a bathroom will need a smoke alarm. In addition, a carbon monoxide alarm must be fitted in any room which contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance. 

There is no grace period to allow landlords to install these alarms – rented properties must be compliant from 1 October 2015.

In addition, landlords must check that each alarm works when a new tenancy is granted.

The obligations in relation to Houses in Multiple Occupation and selectively licensed residential properties differ slightly. In these cases, the requirement to fit smoke and carbon monoxide alarms (as set out above) applies to licences granted or renewed on or after 1 October 2015.

What if the tenant will not allow the landlord access to fit the alarms?

The landlord will not be in breach of the Regulations if it can show that it has taken all reasonable steps, other than legal proceedings, to comply with its duties.  

If the local housing authority is not satisfied that the landlord has done this, then it can serve a remedial notice, requiring the landlord to take the action specified in that notice. The landlord can also be required to pay a penalty charge of up to £5,000. Ultimately, if the landlord does not comply with the remedial notice, a person authorised by the local housing authority can enter the premises to fit the alarms, provided that it has the consent of the occupier to do so. However, if the landlord has not been able to obtain access, it is unlikely that the occupier would allow the local housing authority to enter the premises.

A landlord seeking to rely on a tenant's refusal to grant access as the reason why it has not complied with its obligations should ensure that it keeps copies of all relevant correspondence.

Does the landlord have any way of appealing the local housing authority's decision?

The landlord can request a review of the penalty charge notice and the local housing authority is obliged to consider any representations made by the landlord. If the landlord is not satisfied with the decision, it can appeal to the First Tier Tribunal.

Contributor: Alexandra Holsgrove Jones

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at October 2015. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions on www.TLTsolicitors.com

by Katie Evens

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