Will Landlords have to test smoke alarms?

by Readers Question

12:02 PM, 13th August 2018
About a month ago

Will Landlords have to test smoke alarms?

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Will Landlords have to test smoke alarms?

Does a new court ruling in reference to smoke alarms mean that smoke alarms inside a property will have to be tested by Landlords?

“Landlord Terry Millis, 63, admitted that he put the lives of five residents at risk and pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to comply with requirements to prevent the risk of fire.

He was said to have failed to ensure that the premises and facilities, equipment and devices in the premises complied with the Fire safety Order, were not maintained, were not in good repair, which left residents at risk of death or serious injury in case of a fire.

At Brighton Magistrates’ Court Millis was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £1,743.47 costs to West Sussex County Council.

District Judge Tessa Szagun said Millis, of Sompting, West Sussex, had a “high level” of culpability and fined him £20,000 for “failures” in the lead up to the fire.

She said: “The purpose of sentencing in this type of case is to protect the safety of individuals living in such premises by ensuring that there is no financial gain by any person cutting corners.

“There is also a necessity to deter others from doing so.”

Click here to read the full TLE article.

Many thanks

Denise



Comments

Mark Alexander

12:11 PM, 13th August 2018
About a month ago

Hello Denise

I think the answer is that it depends.

If you own just one flat in a block, or a house or bungalow, I think the answer is that you don't need to test the alarms regularly. However, inspections of properties at least once a year are recommended and it makes sense to test the alarms then, and also to ensure they are still compliant. All wired smoke alarms have a valid until date on them.

For HMO's and blocks of flats the rules will be different and may even vary between authorities based on their Additional Licensing and/or Selective Licensing rules.

James Barnes

15:25 PM, 13th August 2018
About a month ago

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 require that smoke alarms be checked on the first day of a tenancy to ensure they are in working order. After the landlord’s test on the first day of the tenancy, tenants should take responsibility for their own safety and test all alarms regularly to make sure they are in working order.
As Mark says above, the requirements for HMOs and converted flats are probably different but this should form part of a Fire Risk Assessment which all HMOs require anyway.
I've not seen many details about the case above but it seems the level of fine was given because the landlord knew that there were several issues with the alarm system that needed attention but by his own failing or those he instructed, failed to properly address them.

Ian Narbeth

15:48 PM, 13th August 2018
About a month ago

Read more on the case: https://metro.co.uk/2018/08/12/landlord-knew-alarms-werent-working-weeks-fire-ripped-flats-7829599/ . "Several of the smoke detectors had the manufacturer’s dust covers still on them, rendering them non-responsive to smoke." (As an aside, it takes a second to remove the cover (assuming you are tall enough to reach it) so one wonders why the tenants didn't do so but the landlord or his agent ought to have.
The fire alarms in HMOs need to be tested once a week and a record kept of the tests.
The court ruling changes nothing. Landlords need to ensure their properties are safe.

Luke P

9:09 AM, 14th August 2018
About a month ago

In our HMOs we test and record the alarms ourselves. In single-family lets, we meet new tenants at property immediately after signing at our offices (they have to come along to get the keys) and we test/demo and record as well as obtaining a signature to confirm they understand the correct operation of alarms. They further agree to the normal consumer maintenance of the alarms (battery changes, vacuuming etc.)

Alison King

10:24 AM, 14th August 2018
About a month ago

I email my tenants each year before Christmas reminding them to test the fire alarms and that children have to be woken as they will sleep through alarms. I remind them that candles and fuel burning stoves are not allowed under the insurance and that Christmas tree lights are a special hazard and must be kept away from curtains and switched off at night. It's not because I'm worried about prosecution. I'm worried about their safety and that of the property. However I do think the fines cited above are extremely harsh.

Denise G

15:54 PM, 14th August 2018
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 13/08/2018 - 15:48
this was the element of what I read that had made me wonder how far the Landlord's responsibility would be expected to go


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