Date:

No smoke without fire: The new Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 (the Regulations) came into force on 1 October 2015 and create obligations upon private residential landlords to ensure the safety of their tenants. There are around 40 deaths a year from accidental CO poisoning in England and Wales and it is estimated that that, over the next 10 years, there will be 231 fewer deaths and 5,860 fewer injuries as a result of the new laws.

What obligations do the Regulations create?

Under the Regulations, residential landlords must provide a smoke alarm on every storey of their properties and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning combustion appliance. Checks must also be made by the landlord or by someone on their behalf to ensure that each alarm is in proper working order on the day that a tenancy begins. This applies to any new tenancy starting on or after 1 October 2015. Testing alarms regularly remains the tenant’s responsibility.

What are the penalties for non-compliance with the Regulations?

Compliance with the Regulations is monitored by the relevant local housing authority (LHA) for each area. There are two courses of action which LHAs may take: serving a remedial notice; or imposing a penalty charge.

Remedial notices

Under the Regulations there is a duty upon all LHAs to serve a remedial notice on any landlord situated within its area if they have reasonable grounds to believe that a landlord is breaching one or more of its obligations under the Regulations. A remedial notice must be served within 21 days of the LHA deciding that it has reasonable grounds to do so.

The remedial notice must specify a number of things including:

  1. The duty or duties which the landlord is failing to or has failed to comply with; and
  2. The specific remedial action which the LHA considers should be taken.

The landlord will then have 28 days in which to remedy the breach or breaches and they will be warned at this point of the consequences of failing to do so (see Penalty Charges below).

A landlord will not be taken to be in breach of a duty where it can show that it has already taken all reasonable steps, excluding legal proceedings, to comply.

If the LHA can be satisfied that a landlord has failed to take the relevant remedial action within the 28 day period, they will then be obliged to arrange for an authorised person to take the remedial action with the consent of the occupier of the property. The occupier must be given not less than 48 hours’ notice of the remedial action to be taken.

With regards to landlords above, the LHA will not be in breach of a duty where it can show that it has already taken all reasonable steps, excluding legal proceedings, to comply.

Penalty charges

Where the LHA is satisfied that a landlord has failed to take the relevant remedial action within the 28-day period, they may require a landlord to pay a penalty charge. The amount of the charge is at the LHA’s discretion and can be up to £5,000. Each LHA must publish a statement of principles to be followed in determining the amount of the charge.

A landlord will be given 28 days in which to pay, during which he/she can request that the LHA review the decision to impose the charge. If the charge is not withdrawn, the landlord then has the option to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal.

Summary

  • Private residential landlords must now ensure that all of their properties have a smoke alarm on every storey and a carbon monoxide alarm in every room containing a solid fuel burning combustion appliance.
  • They must ensure that these alarms are in good working order as of the first day of any new tenancies.
  • Testing all alarms regularly remains the responsibility of tenants.
  • The LHA may serve a remedial notice on landlords if they have reasonable grounds to believe they are in breach of the Regulations.
  • A fine of up to £5,000 may be imposed if the relevant remedial action is not taken.

If you have any questions about this article, or would like further information, please contact a member of our specialist team below.

Author: Alex Iveson

This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.

Health and Safety Regulation

The threat of health and safety or regulatory scrutiny may be a part of doing business, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t distracting, worrying and disruptive.

Read more

Paul Matthews

Partner - Head of Regulatory (Yorkshire and North East)

I am a Partner in the Regulatory team and a corporate defence specialist who provides up-front regulatory compliance advice and representation to businesses and senior managers in relation to investigations and prosecutions by regulatory bodies.

Steffan Groch

Partner and Head of Regulatory - Head of Sectors

I head up DWF's national Regulatory team as well as leading the firm’s ‘go to market’ sector expertise. I am also Chair of the UK Health and Safety Lawyers Association.