There is a lot of confusion around at the moment regarding CO alarms in rented properties and also an amount of misinformation as well. This will hopefully clarify it, but first you need to remember that the UK is made up of 4 different countries, each of which have their own powers of law making.
CO Laws in England
Probably this is the situation that is causing the most confusion. On 1st October 2015 a new law came into force called The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015.
Private rented sector landlords will be required, from 1 October 2015, to have:
- At least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their rental property which is used as living accommodation, and
- A carbon monoxide alarm in any room used as living accommodation where solid fuel is used.
After that, the landlord must make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.
Many people are assuming they require them for gas as well – they don’t. Although not required by law, the advice is still to have them as a responsible landlord.
Should anyone wish the exact piece of legislation to prove this…. Its Regulation 4(1)(a)(ii) of the above regulations – found here.
CO Laws in Scotland
For a couple of years now (1st October 2013), the Scottish Building Standards have required the installation of a Carbon Monoxide alarm whenever a new gas appliance is installed – with the exception of cooking appliances.
Back in 2014, a change was made to the Housing (Scotland) Act and takes affect from the 1st December 2015. This means that private landlords must ensure that a detection system is installed in all dwellings they rent to tenants where there is:
- A fixed combustion appliance (excluding an appliance used solely for cooking) in the dwelling; or
- A fixed combustion appliance in an inter-connected space, for example, an integral garage
- A combustion appliance necessarily located in a bathroom (advice would be to locate it elsewhere) – the CO detector should be sited outside the room as close to the appliance as possible but allowing for the effect humid air might have on the detector when the bathroom door is open.
This applies to ALL fuels – so gas is included.
Click here to see the Scottish Government Statutory Guidance.
CO Laws in Wales
The only requirement for Wales and CO alarms is from the Building Regulations where a new SOLID FUEL appliance is installed.
There are no changes at present to Welsh requirements and it should be remembered that the previously mentioned requirements for England and Scotland DO NOT apply in Wales.
CO Laws in Northern Ireland
Much like Scotland, Northern Ireland has, since 31st October 2012, required CO alarms to be installed when a new gas appliance is fitted. There is no current information regarding further changes.
This requirement is from Technical Document L of the Building Regulations in Northern Ireland has been amended to cover protection against Carbon Monoxide. Regulation number 72 is the requirement. It states: “Where a combustion appliance is installed in a dwelling, reasonable provision shall be made to detect and give warning of the presence of carbon monoxide gas at levels harmful to people.”
How does this affect a landlord’s gas safety record (LGSR)?
Simply, it doesn’t.
The requirements for a LGSR come from the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 – specifically Regulation 36. These regulations do not mention nor require a CO alarm to be checked or tested – they are not gas appliances but alarms so are not covered by the Regulations. Engineers are free to test these if they wish but are not required under the regulations.
Some publishers of LGSR paperwork have now included a section for CO alarms, this not a regulatory change but a decision by the publisher to add this. It is a decision for the engineer whether they do this and has no bearing on the safety check of the appliance(s) or gas installation itself – which is what the LGSR is all about.
Who is enforcing the new Regulations for England?
The local authority is the enforcement agency who can impose a fine of up to £5,000 where a landlord fails to comply with a remedial notice.
Where can I refer people to about the new legislation instead?
Refer to this page for England.
If you cannot send the link to them, advise them to ‘Google’ the following; ‘Smoke and carbon monoxide alarm regulations explanatory booklet’
This should bring it up as the first result.