As it currently stands in England, under the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015, private landlords must install a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm in all rooms that have a solid fuel-burning appliance, such as a coal fire or wood-burning stove.
Alarms must be tested at the start of each tenancy to make sure they are in proper working order, and we also recommend they’re tested during periodical inspections as a matter of good practice.
However, following a consultation that closed in January 2021, the law is now being amended to extend the smoke and CO alarm regulations to the social rented sector, prompted by the Government’s desire to improve safety standards for all tenants, regardless of tenure. At the same time, changes are being made to the regulations, which will apply to the Private Rented Sector (PRS), and the new rules are due to come into force on 1st October this year for both new and existing tenancies.
There are three key changes for landlords to be aware of:
- The rules will extend to gas boilers, so landlords must install a CO alarm in any room that has a gas boiler (gas cookers are excluded)
- When a new fixed combustion appliance is installed in any home, a CO alarm must also be installed under the law
- Once they’ve been informed there is a fault, landlords will be legally required to repair or replace alarms – and this also includes smoke alarms – “as soon as reasonably practicable”.
Testing alarms during the tenancy will still be the tenant’s responsibility.
As the majority of properties in the PRS have a gas boiler, the most common task will be installing a CO alarm in the room where your boiler is fitted – this also includes oil-fired boilers.
Given that the CO detector does not have to be hardwired or linked to the smoke alarms, the cost should be minimal. You can buy a battery-operated CO alarm for £20-£25, which should last for around 10 years.
So these changes aren’t a major issue for landlords and we welcome any sensible move that improves safety for tenants. If we manage your property, we’ll take care of everything on your behalf to ensure your property is always legally let, but if you have any questions, then please get in touch with us at any time.
A review of the regulations will be carried out and published by the government periodically, with the first one due before 1st October 2027.
CO detector rules around the UK
In Wales, the current rules are the same as for England and when the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 comes into force on 1st December this year, the new rules will more or less continue to mirror England.
In Scotland, a CO detector must be fitted in every space containing a fixed combustion appliance and also in high-risk accommodation - such as a bedroom or living room - if a flue passes through that room.
In Northern Ireland, while there is no specific legislation requiring landlords to have CO alarms, they must make reasonable provision to detect harmful levels of CO gas, and Building Regulations state that when a new fuel-burning appliance is installed, a CO alarm must be fitted.