Be aware of the proposed government regulations on Smoke and Carbon Monoxide alarms
The government is planning to enforce that landlords must have full working smoke and carbon alarms installed, this comes under section 150 of the Energy Act 2013.
Section 150 (1) states is the sole responsibility for the landlords during any tenancy period that:
“the premises are equipped with a required alarm (or required alarms), and “checks are made by or on behalf of the landlord in accordance with the regulations to ensure that any such alarm remains in proper working order.”
Section 150 (2) describes a ‘required alarm’ simply as a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide alarm.
The Act’s regulations are now included in the latest proposal from the government in the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015, which are still in draft form and could probably come into force in October 2015. However as this is still in its proposal state, there may be changes when it is passed later this year and PIMS will be keeping abreast of the situation with updates.
The onus of responsibly for landlords is explained in the following regulations.
Regulation 3(1) and applies to the owner of the property which is being rented out to tenants, but does not include registered social housing providers.
In Regulation 4, it lists duties that landlords must follow to the letter of the law for any tenancy period, starting on or after October 1st. It states that a smoke alarm must be installed on every floor of the “home” that is housing a tenant. Any room that is being lived in or partly habited, that contains a solid fuel combustion appliance, must have a carbon monoxide alarm installed in it. These include lavatories and bathrooms and rooms include halls and landings.
To ensure that this is being strictly adhered to, landlords must provide proof of checks that have been carried out so that all alarms are fit for purpose, on the first day of any new tenancy period from or after the proposed date of October 1st 2015.
Regulation 4(4) explains that a “new tenancy” from October 1st does not include tenancy periods that were agreed upon before the proposed date; statutory periodic tenancies which occur at the end of a fixed term assured shorthold tenancy. It also excludes any further additions to a tenancy period if both the tenant and landlords are the same from the beginning of the original tenancy period, so long as the property has not been dramatically changed since then.
Local housing authorities’ powers to enforce the rules are detailed in Regulation 5. If the housing authority suspects that certain landlords have not carried out their responsibilities specified in the regulations, and they are proved correct, then it is given the power to give a “remedial” notice that informs the landlord exactly what they need to do to rectify the problem.
The landlord has 28 days from receipt of the notice to carry out their instructions, however a landlord is allowed to provide a written appeal within that same timescale; if they can prove that some of the requirements have been met, this is detailed under Regulation 6(1).
If the landlord dismisses the terms of the notice, without following any of the prescribed actions then in Regulation 7(1), it states that the housing authority will take the action to send in an authorised person/company to carry out the work, or actions that are required in the notice.
However it does say that this action can only take place if the owner of the property agrees to this – Regulation 7(1) and (4).
If the landlord can prove that they have in fact carried out all of the installations and checks required, then of course they will not have broken the proposed regulations, unless they have done so under a legal ruling.
Regulation 8 covers all the fines and penalties that they can expect if the local housing authority finds that a landlord has ignored the terms of the remedial notice, they will receive a fine of up £5,000.
If the landlord disagrees with the local housing authority’s penalty decision, then they are allowed to submit a written request/review on the grounds that are included in -Regulation 11(2). The review request must be delivered to the First-tier Tribunal.
Richard Merrick, PIMS, said: “Although these Regulations are under review and not due until October 1st, we advise all landlords that is good practise to have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms already installed (and working properly) in their properties, to protect both the tenant and their own property.”