Smoke Detector Requirements for 3 bedroom Flat

by Readers Question

9:41 AM, 5th October 2017
About A year ago

Smoke Detector Requirements for 3 bedroom Flat

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Smoke Detector Requirements for 3 bedroom Flat

I have a 3 bedroom Victorian purpose built (not a flat conversion) ground floor terrace flat which I let as a flatshare to 3 friends.

I understand that makes it a non-regulated HMO.

My estate agent says the property only requires battery operated smoke detectors.

Reading various articles in the internet, I am confused as to whether mains connected smoke detectors are required. Is anyone able to give a clear answer?

Many thanks

Jon



Comments

Neil Patterson

10:08 AM, 5th October 2017
About A year ago

Hi Jon,

I have an older article that may help >> https://www.property118.com/smoke-heat-alarms-hmo-landlords-use/

But the Council should be able to assist with the regulations that they would require.

Rob Crawford

12:35 PM, 5th October 2017
About A year ago

Hi Jon, as an HMO, even if unlicensed you need to comply with Fire Safety Order 2006. You will need to conduct a fire risk assessment that will help you define fire prevention measures to take. LACOR's is a guide that will help you determine the type of fire detection and alarm system for you specific property. Both the FSO and LACOR's can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/fire-safety-law-and-guidance-documents-for-business

Jon

19:01 PM, 5th October 2017
About A year ago

Thanks for the replies so far!
Yes, I had already looked at the LACOR's FSO but I think paragraph 35 and in particular 35.5 (see below) indicates that the FSO does not apply to house/flatshares of friends under a joint tenancy agreement:
35.
Shared houses
35.1
There is no legal definition of a ‘shared house’ and so
this term can sometimes cause confusion. Whilst shared
houses fall within the legal definition of an HMO (see
Appendix 1, paragraph A.32) and will be licensable
where licensing criteria are met, it is recognised that
they can often present a lower fire risk than traditional
bedsit-type HMOs due to their characteristics.
35.2
For the purposes of this guidance, shared houses
are described as HMOs where the whole property
has been rented out by an identifiable group of
sharers such as students, work colleagues or friends
as joint tenants. Each occupant normally has their
own bedroom but they share the kitchen, dining
facilities, bathroom, WC, living room and all other
parts of the house. All the tenants will have exclusive
legal possession and control of all parts of the house,
including all the bedrooms. There is normally a
significant degree of social interaction between the
occupants and they will, in the main, have rented out
the house as one group. There is a single joint tenancy
agreement. In summary, the group will possess many
of the characteristics of a single family household,
although the property is still technically an HMO as
the occupants are not all related.
35.3
The exact arrangements will vary from house to house
and this may result in ‘grey areas’ in determining
whether a house is a true shared house which
therefore presents a lower fire safety risk due to
the mode of occupation. Each case will need to be
considered on its merits.
35.4
Even if a property is occupied as a shared house, the
fire risk may still increase if the property is of a non-
standard layout or if the occupants present a higher
risk due to factors such as limited mobility or drug/
alcohol dependency (see paragraph 9.3).
housing – fire safety
35.5
Whilst all HMOs are still subject to the Housing Act
2004, the FSO does not apply to shared houses that
meet the criteria set out above. This is because the
occupants have exclusive use of the whole house.

Jon

22:58 PM, 5th October 2017
About A year ago

Also just found this:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/smoke-and-carbon-monoxide-alarms-explanatory-booklet-for-landlords/the-smoke-and-carbon-monoxide-alarm-england-regulations-2015-qa-booklet-for-the-private-rented-sector-landlords-and-tenants

1. The required regulations

The regulations require private rented sector landlords, from 1 October 2015, to have:

at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their rental property which is used as living accommodation, and

a carbon monoxide alarm in any room used as living accommodation where solid fuel is used - after that, the landlord must make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.

6. Type of alarms

The regulations do not stipulate the type of alarms (such as hard wired or battery powered) to be installed. Landlords should make an informed decision and choose the best alarms for their properties and tenants.

17. Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

The regulations apply to unlicensed HMOs. Licensed HMOs are exempt from Parts 1 to 5 of the regulations but only because the regulations also amend the HMO licensing obligations in the Housing Act 2004 so as to impose similar requirements.

Jon

23:00 PM, 5th October 2017
About A year ago

Does anyone know of any further changes since 2015?

Any further info much appreciated!

Charlotte Walker

8:19 AM, 6th October 2017
About A year ago

Irrespective of rules, I would invest in mains wired smoke detectors in common areas and a heat detector in the kitchen. A CO detector also gives reassurance. Battery ones nearly always get disabled by tenants and are a pain in the neck.

Michael Freer

9:28 AM, 6th October 2017
About A year ago

If you take a high-level view of this it sounds like you are looking to save money rather than protect your tenants.
A few extra pounds to have linked, mains powered detectors (heat in the kitchen, smoke elsewhere) installed demonstrates to the current and future tenants that you care, without having to be there and there's no need to lose any sleep.
The regs may change over time, be ahead of the game on stuff like this.
Looking to cut corners where safety is concerned can indicate that you've lost sight of what being a landlord is all about, providing appropriate quality to the area product that people want to and enjoy living in - oh, and you make a profit by doing it (if you are doing it right).

Jon

10:38 AM, 6th October 2017
About A year ago

Thanks for the further comments.
Michael, though I understand your comment, I do find it somewhat inappropriate. Please let me elaborate why:
I am certainly not a landlord trying to cut corners - hence my writing here. One could extend your argumentation and say why haven't we all got self closing fire doors, emergency escape route lighting, alarms linked to a control panel tested weekly by a "manager", etc. As we haven't all done this, does this mean we are trying to cut corners and that we don't care about our tenants safety?
I have always ensured that my property meets all requirements and have gone above and beyond to provide an excellent property for tenants.
As well as writing here, I have been speaking with electricians; Safelinks who provide smoke alarms; and I am now waiting on legal advice from lawyers. So I think it's a bit unfair to caste doubt on my motives. I am genuinely wanting to know what legal requirements are in order to take all appropriate measures. Only once one knows what is legally required, can one take a decision to go above and beyond such requirements.
For example, if mains wired smoke alarms are a requirement in my case, to which standard?
Hence my query here and trying to get clarity so that I can continue to provide an excellent property and be ensured that I am doing everything required of me as landlord.
The estate agent I use says that I only require one battery operated smoke alarm and no carbon monoxide alarm. I currently have 5 smoke alarms and I have a carbon monoxide alarm (incidentally none of which I have ever had a problem with or with tenants removing batteries). All of these I have had since way before they were a legal requirement. I personally put new batteries in them every year whether or not there is any indication they are becoming empty.
I understand that a mains wired system may be considered optimal but 10 year sealed lithium battery radio linked alarms would seem also very good for example depending on what is legally required.
Thanks again for the answers and contributing to reaching clarity in this matter.

Jon

10:41 AM, 6th October 2017
About A year ago

Sorry for the above /s but I can't seem to edit them out.

terry sullivan

11:38 AM, 6th October 2017
About A year ago

just battery powered smoke detectors--most are now sealed and last up to 5 years

co detectors not needed except in presence of solid fuel burners--most modern flats will not need co monitors

as far as i know this is current--you could phone local fire station

a) for advice

b) they sometimes have free alarms to give away

fire brigade usually helpful in this respect

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