According to law, every property that was built since June 1992, together with HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupations) needs to include smoke detectors and alarms. The minimum is one per floor. On 11 March 2015, a legal requirement was put in place to fit in smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. This is needed for all the residential rental properties starting on October 1st, 2015.
According to the regulations:
- The smoke alarm has to be present on every single story where a room is utilized partly or wholly as any type of living accommodation.
- The carbon monoxide alarm needs to be present in every room that is used partly or wholly as living accommodation when it contains an appliance that features fuel burning combustion.
- Alarms have to be in working order and checked when the tenancy starts.
There is no mention of what alarm type is required. It is the job of the landlord to follow what is listed as being “best practice”. According to deacon.co.uk, because of how the law is written, it is important for landlords to have appropriate insurance coverage in case something wrong happens.
Smoke Alarm Regulations
Local councils set up their own practice guidelines for the landlords to respect. These all tend to be really similar from one jurisdiction to the next. Usually, they are set up in a conjunction with local services for fire and rescue. As a simple example, according to the Fire And Rescue Service in Nottinghamshire:
“The minimum recommended level of provision is to fit a smoke alarm on each floor of your home, at the bottom of the staircase, and on each upstairs landing.”
As a minimum, the smoke alarm that is installed should at least meet the British Standard 5446 Part 1. It needs a European or British approval mark. Sealed long-life alarms are recommended when interested in making cost-effective decisions.
When referring to HMOs, increased protection is necessary than with the single-family house. Local HMO guidelines are in place to guarantee that best practices will be followed. Usually, this means including mains powered interlinked smoke alarms that are connected to a central operating unit.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Alarms are limited to the rooms that include solid flue appliances, according to the regulations from 2015. However, carbon monoxide can appear from faulty oil or gas devices. That is why an annual safety check is mandatory to reduce risks for tenants. When there is no alarm present and a tragedy takes place, the landlord can be held responsible when he/she did not take the reasonable steps required to guarantee tenant safety.
Wherever fuel will be burned (including coal, logs, gas, and oil), audible carbon monoxide alarms are recommended by all agencies, like the NHS, HSE, fire services, and local councils.
The official recommendation for carbon monoxide alarms is that they are audible and meet the EN 50291 British Standard.
A combination alarm system that detects both carbon and smoke can be used. You can choose models with sealed long-life systems or replaceable batteries. The choice is usually based on the available budget.