Are your properties meeting the requirements for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms?

by Jason McClean

8:29 AM, 24th June 2015
About 3 years ago

Are your properties meeting the requirements for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms?

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Are your properties meeting the requirements for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms?

Over the last 18 months the private rental sector has been under increased scrutiny as a result of new legislation and demands for transparency.smoke alarms

An announcement made by Housing Minister Brandon Lewis in March of this year means that private landlords will have a legal obligation to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties.

The changes will take effect in October, so here are a few top tips to help you prepare:

  • What are the requirements?

Every floor of a property requires a working smoke alarm and a test must be carried out at the start of every tenancy. Equally, carbon monoxide alarms will be required in any room used for living accommodation that contains a ‘solid fuel burning combustion appliance.’ Failure to meet these requirements means possible sanctions and a civil penalty of up to £5,000, as well as potentially putting your tenants at risk.

  • What can be a source of carbon monoxide poisoning?

It is common knowledge that gas appliances such as boilers and cookers are sources of carbon monoxide. However, there are many potential sources of carbon monoxide including any fossil fuel appliances such as open fires, wood burners, petrol generators and improperly sited charcoal barbecues. Carbon monoxide can also leak in to your property if chimneys become blocked or corrode over time.

  • Which alarms should I buy?

CE marking on an alarm means that the manufacturer meets the minimum legal requirement to sell it. A Kitemark means that the alarm has been tested by the British Standards Institution (BSI) – the manufacturer must have a quality system in place which the BSI will audit regularly. It is advisable to buy an independently tested product.

  • Do I need to test the alarms?

Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms must be tested weekly and cleaned monthly. It is also important to ensure that tenants are aware of how to check the alarms and that emphasis is placed on the importance of proper maintenance.

  • Where should I put the alarms?

As opposed to smoke alarms, there is not the same level of common knowledge about carbon monoxide alarms and where to place them. Carbon monoxide alarms should be located in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions to work effectively. This will typically be situated on a wall, higher than doors or windows and not in the vicinity of a gas cooker.

  • Can alarms be obtained from the local fire department?

Fire and rescue authorities are expected to provide free alarms to support private landlords in meeting their new legal obligations, so before you buy your alarms, check in with your local authority first.

“In order to meet regulations that are coming in to effect in October, private landlords need to prepare in advance to ensure that their properties are fitted with the appropriate alarms,” said a spokesperson for Discount Insurance.

“Landlords can ensure they stay on the right side of the law and fully protect their tenants by following these easy tips,” added the spokesperson.

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Comments

Ian Cognito

11:41 AM, 24th June 2015
About 3 years ago

In practice, testing either a smoke/heat/CO alarm will normally involve only pressing a test button to confirm that batteries and siren are OK.

Does any landlord do a proper test to ensure that the alarms actually work correctly by sensing smoke/heat/CO?

Certainly, holding a lit candle, or an extinguished candle, close to a heat or smoke alarm respectively should set them off, but this is very unscientific as temperature and amount of smoke are variable.

With regard to CO testing, I have seen aerosols advertised but do not know how reliable they are.

Is there a simple, inexpensive, recognised method of testing smoke/heat/CO alarms that an untrained private landlord can carry out as part of an annual inspection or when there is a change of tenant?

David Price

14:50 PM, 24th June 2015
About 3 years ago

I have just been sent a CCTV video of a tenant smashing part of our communal area fire equipment, estimated damage in excess of £500 for a few seconds work. How am I going to maintain working smoke alarms inside a flat when tenants so blatantly abuse them in full view of CCTV cameras?
A few years ago the local fire service installed smoke alarms in all 100 flats in my block. A month later 50% had been vandalised, six months later all had been destroyed.

Doug Green

10:01 AM, 25th June 2015
About 3 years ago

For sensors which have no test buttons, i.e. part of a system with a central control panel (L2 I think), smoke detector test can be done with an aerosol can of test smoke. It lasts years. Heat detector can be tested with a hair drier.

Doug

Lucy McKenna

16:39 PM, 25th June 2015
About 3 years ago

I believe they only have to be operating at the start of the tenancy and then they become the tenants responsibility. So best to get it on your inventory and signed for as working at check in.

In a block of flats is the communal fire alarm system sufficient?

Ian Cognito

17:32 PM, 25th June 2015
About 3 years ago

Hi Doug. Would you have a link for the smoke aerosol?

Doug Green

22:15 PM, 25th June 2015
About 3 years ago

No thanks, I only have a few to test so it'll last a while.

Regards - Doug

Ian Cognito

0:14 AM, 26th June 2015
About 3 years ago

Hi again Doug. Not sure if you understood my previous comment. I was hoping you could tell me name of smoke aerosols and where I can buy them. That's why I asked for a link!

ElmyPMS

13:12 PM, 5th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Since when have 'Open Fires' been appliances?
The legislation is concerned with 'solid fuel burning combustion appliance'

My property has 2 open fires in different rooms, each with a swept chimney prior to tenant moving in
Additionally they both have a vent in the outside wall
I don't think i need the additional expense of 2 carbon monoxide detectors.

What is the opinion of other landlords?
Do I NEED to install carbon monoxide detectors in addition to the smoke detectors?

S.E. Landlord

18:58 PM, 5th September 2016
About 2 years ago

I don't know if there is a legal requirement but I think you should install the alarms.


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