Three problems with the carbon monoxide and smoke alarms regulations

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Photo of Tessa SheppersonAs you are no doubt aware, new Health and Safety regulations came into force in October 2015 in England relating to the provision of alarms.

However they are not problem free. Here are a few of the issues:

1. They relate to ALL rented properties (in England)

Including protected tenancies. And, unlike the section 21 changes they do not just apply to new (or renewed) tenancies.

That’s a lot of tenancies. Enquiries at the time showed that actually there were insufficient alarms available for sale to allow landlords comply fully for all rented properties. So there are almost certainly a large number of properties which are non-compliant.

Hopefully not one of YOUR properties?

2. They need to be tested on the first day of the tenancy

Or do they?  The regulations actually say that landlords must ensure that:

“checks are made by or on behalf of the landlord to ensure that each prescribed alarm is in proper working order on the day the tenancy begins if it is a new tenancy”

Does this mean that the check must be done on the first day of the tenancy and on no other day? Or does it mean that you have to do a check to make sure that the alarms are working on that day - but that the check to show this can be done on another day (e.g. the day before or the day after).

It’s hard to say. The wording is ambiguous. So we will only know for sure once there is a case on it.

3. What constitutes a proper check?

This is also a bit unclear, particularly for carbon monoxide alarms. Many landlords and agents test the alarm by pressing a button - but this only tests the circuitry, it does not test the actual sensor that lets you know if there is CO in the air.

The guide provided by the government is unclear on this point, although FAQ 21 appears to indicate that the landlord may have complied if the tenants sign the inventory to confirm that they are satisfied that the alarms are in working order.

However if you want to test the sensor there is a way. Detectagas is a product invented by John Stones of Gas Safe Europe and will test CO sensors at modest cost. You can listen to John talking about this in an interview with Tessa.

John is also an exhibitor at our Landlord Law Conference (sponsored by TDS) on Thursday 12 May - so conference delegates will also be able to find out more there.  

Find out more about the Conference

In short

We can all agree that having these alarms is a good idea. However it is a shame the regulations were not better thought out and made a bit clearer.

Tessa is a specialist landlord and tenant lawyer and director of the training company Easy Law Training Ltd


Posted by Tessa Shepperson on 27 April 2016

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