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Regulation change regarding carbon monoxide alarms

December 13, 2021

Tenant wellbeing should be at the top of every landlord’s compliance list and there’s a new gas safety regulation to understand and implement this winter. The change has prompted a number of questions from landlords, which our lettings team have answered:-

Q. How have carbon monoxide alarm rules changed?
A. The Government’s change to gas safety regulations in late 2021 states that all properties in the private rental sector with a fixed gas appliance, such as a gas boiler or fire, now need a carbon monoxide alarm fitted.

Q. Wasn’t that always the case?
A. Previously, the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 made it mandatory for rentals to have a carbon monoxide alarm only where there was a solid fuel appliance, such as a coal fire or wood burning stove.

Q. My buy-to-let doesn’t have a gas appliance – am I affected?
A. If your rental property is all-electric but you’re planning to install a gas appliance, the new regulations have made it compulsory to supply a carbon monoxide alarm at the same time as you fit a new gas appliance. If you rely on solid fuel to heat or power the property, you will still need a carbon monoxide alarm.

Q. If I supply a carbon monoxide alarm, have I fulfilled all of my alarm obligations?
A. Landlords, or their property manager, need to go a little further than merely providing a carbon monoxide alarm. They need to ensure it works at the start of every new tenancy by testing the alarm, and they need to replace a faulty carbon monoxide alarm as soon as a fault is flagged up.

Q. Have the rules changed in regards to smoke alarms?
A. Smoke alarm rules – as set out in the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 and the statutory guidance (Approved Document J) supporting Part J of the Building Regulations – stay the same. Landlords are required to install at least one smoke alarm on every storey of their rental property that is used as living accommodation. Like carbon monoxide alarms, a landlord, or their property manager, needs to test the smoke alarm at the start of every new tenancy and replace a defective alarm as soon as they are alerted to a problem.

Q. Whose job is it to test any alarms?
A. The Government makes it quite clear that a tenant is responsible for testing any carbon monoxide and smoke alarms during the tenancy period, as outlined in the Government’s Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm Q&A Booklet. Tenants are responsible for changing an alarm’s batteries but it should be the landlord that replaces an alarm unit that’s broken.

Q. Where’s the best place to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms?
A. The best locations for smoke alarms are where air circulates more freely, such as landings, hallways and stairwells. Installing carbon monoxide alarms at head height is best, as long as the alarm is between 1 and 3 metres away from any gas or solid fuel appliance.

Please check with us if you think your buy-to-let property is exempt from any gas safety regulations. We would be happy to advise on the best course of action to keep your let compliant and your tenants safe.

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