On the 23rd November 2021, the Government announced its response to a consultation on the use of smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in domestic properties.
Before the consultation, under the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015, private landlords only needed to install a CO alarm in properties where a solid fuel burning appliance was fitted.
Under the extended regulations, from 1st October 2022 a carbon monoxide alarm will be required in all rooms where there is a fixed combustion appliance – such as gas boilers or gas fires. However, gas cookers are excluded from the updated regulation.
When any additional appliances are installed in your home, a new carbon monoxide alarm will also be required to be fitted. The cost of installing and maintaining these alarms will fall on your landlord. However, the responsibility to regularly test your alarms still lies with you as a tenant.
Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odourless, colourless gas produced when fuel doesn’t burn properly. Exposure to high levels of CO can be fatal while prolonged exposure to lower levels of CO can cause serious health problems. The only way to detect carbon monoxide is with an audible CO alarm.
Gas boilers can produce carbon monoxide naturally and are designed to carry the toxic gas out of your house via a flue. However, if your boiler has not been fitted properly or your flue is blocked, carbon monoxide will escape into your home. That’s why having an audible CO alarm close to your gas boiler is very important.
As a private renter, if you have any fixed combustion appliances in place it will be your right to have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted in your home. Also, under the new regulations, your landlord will soon be obligated to repair or replace your CO alarm if you have informed them that it is faulty or damaged.
CO alarms must be placed 1-3 metres away from any fuel-burning appliance, such as your gas boiler or gas fire. If your CO alarm is sounding, open any doors or windows and if possible, turn off your gas appliances. Leave your property and call the gas safe emergency helpline (0800 111 999) for further assistance.
All landlords must follow domestic fire alarm regulations as part of BS 5839-6:2019. This recommends installing interlinked smoke, CO and heat alarms in a property.
Updates to fire safety legislation in Scotland, recently made it mandatory for all properties – owned, privately rented and socially rented – to have interlinked alarms. This is due to the increased protection interlinked devices can offer.
If you would prefer for your smoke and CO detectors to be interlinked, speak to your landlord.
With the extended regulations, it means as a private renter you will soon have the right to a working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector in your property by law.
Speaking on the regulation changes, the Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, Eddie Hughes MP, said: “Around 20 people are killed each year in accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, and many more through house fires – but we know that simple interventions can stop these needless deaths.
“I’m proud that the new rules being proposed will ensure even more homes are fitted with life-saving alarms. Whether you own your home, are privately renting or in social housing – everyone deserves to feel safe and this is an incredibly important step in protecting those at risk.”