The responsibilities on landlords regarding smoke alarms were made clear in October 2015, following the establishment of the regulatory act outlining precisely what needs to be done.
Private sector landlords must install at least one smoke alarm on every level of the property they own. So, a three-bedroom house with an upper floor will require the house has two smoke alarms.
If there is a solid fuel burning appliance (coal or wood stoves) a carbon monoxide alarm has to be fitted too. However, landlords of Licensed HMO (High Multiple Occupancy) houses are not included. There are separate fire safety regulations that must be adhered in these premises, and they are even more stringent than residential tenancies, leases, and licensed properties.
Social housing landlords and landlords who live within the property as well are also exempt, but the same sureties regarding the safety of their tenants still apply.
Testing the Smoke Alarm
The landlord must test the smoke alarm on the day the tenant moves in. This helps to prove to the tenant and landlord that the alarm is in working condition. A signature from the tenant – agreeing that they witnessed the alarm being tested correctly – should be obtained.
A landlord does not have to test the smoke alarms if the tenant is merely renewing their agreement for a further term. It is advisable to have the signature placed on a set of legal documents regarding other matters of the tenancy. An inventory report is the best place to keep this signature, proving that the smoke alarm was working on the first day of the new tenancy.
Type of Alarm
When a smoke alarm is fitted there are no specific types a landlord has to install. The fire department is always willing to give advice on the best smoke alarms, as well as the best positions to put them up.
The instructions always suggest placing a smoke alarm on a ceiling and in a place where air circulation takes place. A hall or landing (upstairs) are ideal locations to fit smoke alarms.
A landlord will probably note from the smoke alarm manufacturers’ user guide that they should not be fitted in the corner of a rarely-used room.
What about Carbon Monoxide Detectors?
These need to go on the wall or a shelf, around six feet off the ground and no more than 3 meters from the fuel-burning appliance.