Private Landlord Legislation

If you are reading this page you are already aware of how important it is to keep tenants safe from fire and carbon monoxide (CO).

In both England and Scotland private landlords are required by law to fit smoke alarms in their rental properties. CO regulations vary throughout the UK according to location, type of accommodation and specific appliance installed. For example, in England CO alarms are required in any room containing a solid fuel-burning appliance (such as an open fire or wood burner) whereas private landlords in Scotland are required to install carbon monoxide alarms in every room where there is a fixed combustion appliance (this includes gas boilers, oil boilers along with open fires and wood burners). In Wales and Northern Ireland landlords have a duty of care to people living in their properties. Failure to abide by these laws can result in a hefty fine or prison sentence, so it is of the upmost importance to be compliant.

Changes in fires safety legislation reflect the importance and necessity of these life saving devices. These laws offer tenants protection against fires and the threat of carbon monoxide, however, they fall short of the protective levels recommended in British Standard BS 5839-6:2013.

Landlord Best Practice

Guidance is set out to help landlords meet and go beyond legislative requirements to provide a level of fire safety that is recommended as best practice meeting the British Standards.

For smoke and heat alarms follow British Standard – BS5839-6:2013

Grade D – Mains powered alarms with an integral stand-by power supply (battery back-up).

Category LD2 – Alarms fitted in all circulation spaces that form part of escape routes (hallways, landings) and rooms or areas that present a high fire risk (living room and kitchen).

For carbon monoxide alarms follow British Standard – BS EN 50292:2013

The British Standard states that a CO alarm should be fitted in any room:

  • That contains any fuel-burning appliance (such as an open fire, gas cooker or boiler)
  • Where people spend the most time (such as a living room)
  • Where people sleep
  • That has a flue running through it

Further information on the British Standards can be found under smoke alarms – BS5839-6. Further information can also be found on carbon monoxide alarms – BS EN50292:2013. Helpful resources are also available to assist with where to site your alarms and which sensor types to use.

The Law – By Region

Private landlord legislation differs slightly by region.

England The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015:

  • Working smoke alarms are required to be installed on every level of the property.
  • A working carbon monoxide alarm should be installed in any room with a solid fuel-burning appliance (such as an open fire or wood burner).

Housing (Scotland) Act 2006

Landlords must have satisfactory provision for detecting fires. The statutory guidance states that:

  • Smoke alarms should be installed in rooms frequently used by occupants for general daytime living, such as a living room.
  • At least one smoke alarm should be installed on each storey.
  • There should be a smoke alarm in every circulation space, such as hallways and landings.
  • Additionally, a heat alarm should be installed in every kitchen.
  • All alarms should be interlinked.
  • Alarms should be Grade D (mains powered with a back-up power supply).
  • Working carbon monoxide alarms should be installed in every room or interconnected space where there is a fixed combustion appliance (excluding an appliance used solely for cooking). This includes gas boilers, oil boilers, wood burners etc.
Northern Ireland and Wales There is no specific law for private landlords to install smoke or CO alarms in Northern Ireland and Wales, however:

  • If you are building, extending or renovating then Fire Building Regulations and Carbon Monoxide Building Regulations will require you to fit smoke and CO alarms.
  • In Wales, you must fit a CO alarm when installing a new, or replacing an old, solid fuel-burning appliance (such as coal or wood).
  • In Northern Ireland, you must fit a CO alarm when installing a new, or replacing an old, appliance that burns any type of fuel (gas, oil, wood or coal), except for a cooker.


*Please note: British Standard 5839-6 takes the form of guidance and recommendations. It should not be quoted as if it were a specification and particular care should be taken to ensure that claims of compliance are not misleading. Any user claiming compliance with this British Standard is expected to be able to justify any course of action that deviates from its recommendations. For more information or to read the standard in full, please visit the British Standards website.