As you may or may not be aware new legislation came into force from 1st October 2015 with regards to smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in rented residential properties and there has been some confusion as to the requirements landlords need to take in order to comply with this new legislation.
Although this legislation has been out for nearly 2 years now I still received phone calls from landlords who are either unaware of the recent changes or are aware of them but have concerns that they might not be complying fully.
With the myriad of information available online it is easy to get confused between legislation and opinion.
So below you will find an easy to follow guide that will hopefully answer some of the common concerns and misconceptions on how to comply with the law and keep your property as safe as possible for your tenants.
Who does it apply to?
The law applies to all landlords renting residential accommodation that are let to one or more tenants occupying all or part of the property as their only or main place to live after the 1st October 2015.
What do I need to do to comply?
Landlords will have to ensure that a smoke alarm is fitted on every floor of their property where there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation.
Under this law, a bathroom or lavatory is classed as a room used for living accommodation and a room also covers halls, landings and stairways.
For instance, for maisonettes or flats above another premise where the flat is on the first floor but you enter via stairs on the ground floor a smoke alarm will be required in the stairwell.
Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Landlords also have to put a carbon monoxide alarm in any room where a solid fuel is burnt, such as wood, coal or biomass and includes open fires. It does not include gas, oil or LPG.
It should be noted however that we would always recommend having a carbon monoxide alarm fitted where any gas boiler is present as although boilers have to be legally checked on an annual basis for safety, mechanical failure can occur at any in the year between checks and lead to a deadly escape of Carbon monoxide.
Additionally, along with installing the alarms, landlords are then required to ensure that the alarms work at the start of each new tenancy; for example, by pressing the test button until the alarm beeps. This will ensure that the alarms were working at the start of the tenancy should it ever be called into question by the local authority.
With this in mind it is advisable to get the tenant to sign a receipt confirming the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working at the start of their tenancy or ensure it is in the inventory at check-in which is signed by the tenant.
During the tenancy however, it is a tenant’s responsibility to ensure the alarms work and it is their responsibility to change the batteries during the tenancy.
However, should the alarms become faulty during the tenancy landlords are still responsible for replacing them.
In addition, landlords do not need to check the alarms when a tenancy is renewed under the same conditions i.e. for the same premises by the same landlord to the same tenant and It does not include a periodic statutory tenancy which starts following the end of a shorthold tenancy.
Local authorities will be responsible for enforcing the new rules. If the local authority thinks that a landlord has not implemented the new rules correctly they will issue a notice advising the landlord what they need to do to resolve the problem. The local authority must give the notice within 21 days from when they believe that the landlord has breached the rules.
The landlord has 28 days to respond and/or make good what is needed to comply with the regulations.
NOTE: Landlords cannot be held responsible if they can show that they have taken reasonable steps to comply with the rules but cannot enforce the changes, such as if a tenant refuses to allow for the work to be done.
What are the penalties for non-compliance?
If landlords do not take action, the local authority can arrange for the required work to be carried out (with the consent of the occupier) to ensure that tenants are protected.
Local housing authorities also have the right to impose a fixed penalty charge of up to £5,000 on landlords who do not comply with the rules.
I still have questions?
It’s understandable, as a professional agent we have had 2 years to unpick the muddle of information that was initially proposed, eventually agreed upon and then amended again before it became law and we were then able to fully get to grips with fact vs fiction.
If you have questions or concerns then feel free to give us a call and we would be happy to talk you through the details.
For the landlords that already enjoy the benefit of our fully managed service and are wondering about your properties, don’t worry, although you may not know it; we here at Dacks have been ensuring that your properties have been complying since this regulation came in force.