Landlord News

Landlords and Agents Must Test Smoke Alarms on Day of New Tenancy

Em Morley - September 30, 2015

From tomorrow, 1st October, the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations will be enforced.

Landlords and letting agents must ensure that smoke alarms are fitted on each floor of every rental property, whether the home has a new or existing tenancy agreement.

Additionally, alarms must be tested for new tenancies starting on or after tomorrow. This requirement does not include existing tenancies, but landlords and agents are reminded that all rental homes must have smoke alarms.

A senior solicitor at law firm Hart Brown, Stephen Boyle, warns of a “slight kink in the wording of the regulations that might catch the unwary”.

He explains: “The regulations require that the landlord ensure that each prescribed alarm is in proper working order on the day the tenancy begins if it is a new tenancy.

Landlords and Agents Must Test Smoke Alarms on Day of New Tenancy

Landlords and Agents Must Test Smoke Alarms on Day of New Tenancy

“Checking alarms a day or week before the new tenants move in would be a breach of the strict terms of the regulations, so landlords should beware of agents checking properties on their behalf in advance of a new tenancy beginning.

“If the alarms are not checked on the day the tenancy begins, the landlord will be the one facing a fine of up to £5,000.”1 

Rental properties will also be required to have carbon monoxide alarms fitted in living spaces where there are solid fuel appliances.

However, Trading Standards has revealed that independent tests on carbon monoxide alarms found that eight out of ten failed British Standards tests.

Managing Director of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), David Cox, says that agents have been struggling to fit smoke and carbon monoxide alarms due to the tight timeframe, noting that there has been just 13 days between Parliament approving the new regulations and their implementation.

He states: “We are entirely supportive of the aims of the regulation, but have recommended that the Government has implemented too strict a timeframe for this. However, despite our calls to reconsider the timeframe, following final scrutiny of the measures a few weeks ago, the deadline was not extended and landlords must comply by tomorrow.

“For those who have not yet fitted smoke alarms, we urge them to do all they can today to ensure that their properties comply with the new regulations that come into play.”

He adds: “There are also some changes to section 21, which will come into force tomorrow, looking at when section 21 notices can be served, how long they will be valid for, what needs to be served with them, and hopefully a new prescribed section 21 notice.

“On top of all this, new retaliatory eviction measures will also be coming into force tomorrow, banning landlords from using section 21 for six months where a local authority has served an improvement notice.

“At ARLA, we have provided factsheets to all our members on these changes and encouragement for anyone who doesn’t fully understand the regulations to get up to speed as quickly as possible.”1

However, with just one day to go, there is still confusion amongst landlords and agents regarding the new requirement to fit smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms to homes, with many believing it only applies to new tenancies starting on or after 1st October.

Property expert Henry Pryor took to Twitter to question Housing Minister Brandon Lewis over the misconception:

Pryor asked: “@BrandonLewis Question, do the regulations apply where the premises are let under an existing tenancy?”

Lewis replied: “@HenryPryor Yes.”1

1 http://www.propertyindustryeye.com/lawyer-warns-that-agents-must-check-smoke-alarms-on-day-of-new-tenancy-and-not-before/