Hold on tight because this is going to be another one of those rip-roaring, edge of your seat news blogs on new legislation. If you have any Red Bull left from reading our last legislation update grab one now as your going to need it!
So, the situation is as of the 1st October 2015 new regulations were introduced in England that require both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms to be installed in rented residential accommodation. These new regulations apply to both flats and houses, and failure to comply could lead to a civil penalty fine of up to £5000.00! A little more awake now?
Does This Apply To Me?
These requirements are imposed on the immediate landlord although there is an exemption for providers of social housing. It is also a little different for HMO's and selective licensing as the responsibility to ensure that these mandatory conditions are complied with falls on the license holder.
Will My Property Be Affected?
This new legislation applies to residential premises (all or part of which comprise a dwelling) let under a specific tenancy or a licence granting one or more people the right to occupy the premises as their only or main residence. Although there are a few exemptions:
- A tenancy under which the tenant shares any accommodation with the landlord or a member of the landlord's family. For example where facilities such as a kitchen, lounge or bathroom/toilet are shared
- A long lease tenancy or one which grants a right of occupation of the premises, i.e. for more than 21 years
- Student halls of residence
- Care Homes
- Accommodation relating to health care provision
The landlord must ensure that a smoke alarm in working order is fitted on each storey of the premises where there is a room used for living accommodation (e.g. bedroom, lounge, kitchen, dining-room, bathroom/toilet, halls & landings). With regard to flats over one floor, it would be advisable for there to be at least one working smoke alarm within the flat itself, and one outside the flat e.g. a communal alarm.
The new legislation does not state as to the type or model of alarm to be used, although it would be sound advice to use an interlinked or hard wired alarm system for reliability and effectiveness.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
With regard to carbon monoxide alarms, a working carbon monoxide alarm must be provided by the landlord in any room of the premises used as living accommodation which contains a solid fuel appliance such as a wood burning stove or an open coal fire. This also includes equipment such as a solid fuel Aga in a kitchen.
Testing The Alarms
The new legislation states that the landlord is required to carry out a check on these smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are in good working order on the day a new tenancy begins. An ideal time to do this would be during the Check-In with the tenant on the first day of the tenancy.
For these purposes a new tenancy does not include:
- a tenancy where the original agreement was entered into before the 1st October 2015.
- a periodic statutory tenancy which arises when a fixed-term shorthold tenancy ends.
- the renewal of a tenancy for the same premises by the same landlord to the same tenant. This should not be confused with the requirement to install detectors and alarms which applies to tenancies in existence before October 1st 2015.
It would be good advice to not only test these alarms on the day a new tenancy begins, but also at regular intervals throughout the tenancy. Again, a mid-term inspection would be an ideal time to do this. Taking a record of each check would also be advisable on the chance you need to rely on it at a later date.
There is no harm in requesting that the tenants carryout their own regular checks, but under no circumstances should this be relied on.
Enforcement, Penalties & Appeals
So, who is to enforce these new regulations, and what is the consequence for failure to comply? It is the local authority who's responsible for enforcing this new legislation and they will serve a remedial notice within 21 days on any landlord they believe is in breach of the legislation.
If the local authority decides to impose a penalty it could be as much as £5000.00, and a penalty charge notice must be served on the landlord within six weeks from when it is first satisfied that a breach has occurred. The landlord has a right to appeal against the penalty notice and payment of the penalty is suspended pending the appeal. The grounds of appeal are:
- The local authority has made an error of fact or law
- The amount of penalty charge is unreasonable
- The decision to impose a penalty is unreasonable for any other reason
There you go, not quite so gruelling a read as the Section 21 update so if feel you could digest a little more information on this topic you can gain a very in-depth insight from the horse's mouth right here.