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Carbon Monoxide Alarms – Landlord Responsibility

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015

Are you aware that new regulations came into force from the 1st October 2015 which require landlords in England to install both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms to protect the their residents.

Existing rules meant that owners of property built before June 1992 were not legally obliged to have smoke alarms installed. The updated legislation intends to improve safety of residents by ensuring all private sector rented property are adequately protected. The regulations will help reduce the risk of CO poisoning.

Currently there are around 26 deaths and 670 injuries a year from CO poisoning, having a working CO alarm will help towards reducing these numbers for relatively little cost.

From the 1st October all private sector landlords in England are required to fit working smoke alarms on every floor of their residential properties and CO alarms in all rooms which contain a solid fuel-burning appliance.

The landlord must check prior to a new tenancy that all alarms are functional.

Do these regulations go far enough?

However the regulations do not require landlords to install CO alarms in rooms containing gas or oil fired heating appliances.

While these regulations are certainly a step in the right direction, the risk from CO poisoning is present with any fossil fuel burning appliance which includes solids fuels, oil and gas fired appliances.

The risk of a CO related incident occurring in the private sector is three times greater that the risk for other housing types.

Casualty Rates

A study of 1768 patients at four hospitals in England in 2010 with symptoms pf CO poisoning found that 16% had CO alarms installed. Alarm activation may be the increasing the likelihood of someone seeking medical treatment thereby increasing the numbers being reported in the table below. (Data Source: Gas Safety Trust)

Where exactly should you install the alarms?

The new regulations are not specific as to where the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms should be sited, but does dictate that a land lord must:

‘A smoke alarm is equipment on each storey of the premises on which there is a room wholly or partly used as living accommodation’

‘A Carbon monoxide alarm is equipped in any room of the premises which is used wholly or partly used as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel burning appliance’

Where available the manufacturer’s installation instructions should be followed. We would suggest the following placement tips may be useful.

Smoke Alarms

  • Make sure that any alarms are audible from any bedrooms
  • Avoid placing alarms within 30cm from any walls which avoids static air where the detector may take longer to trigger
  • Avoid placing alarms within 30cm of any light fittings or obstructions on the ceiling
  • Consider installing additional heat detector version alarms in kitchens

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

  • Make sure that any alarms are audible from any bedrooms
  • Site CO alarms more than 2 meters from apply fuel burning appliance, but no more than 4 meters
  • If wall mounting the alarm, ensure this is mounted approximately 1.5m from ground level
  • Site alarms at least 30cm from any walls
  • Avoid siting CO alarms near openable windows, doors and sources of ventilation which may reduce their detection rate

It’s ultimately the responsibility of the installer to consider the best position for your smoke and CO alarms within properties, the above may be used as guidance in making decisions on proposed locations

Who is responsible for maintaining the alarms in rented property?

Landlords must ensure that the alarms are installed correctly and in a working condition at the start of the tenancy, but routine maintenance and testing falls within the remit of the occupants of the property.

Failed or faulty alarms once identified must be replaced by the landlord.

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