The law – Simplified
In Scotland, Ireland and Northern and Ireland the general law covers landlords, and generally landlords are required to have alarms in any room with a fuel-burning appliance. In England and Wales there is a specific law that obliges landlords. However for landlords it’s simple really; if you are a landlord, then it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure measures have been carried out to monitor and protect the people in their properties from a carbon monoxide leak.
In England The Residential Landlords association states that, as from the 1st October 2015, regulations require smoke alarms to be installed in rented residential accommodation and carbon monoxide alarms in rooms with a solid fuel appliance. Additionally, landlords must ensure that there is a carbon monoxide alarm fitted in any room that is used partly or wholly as living accommodation which also contains any appliance which burns, or is capable of burning, solid fuel. This includes log or coal burning stoves and open fires, and is applicable even if they are not normally in use. Gas is not a solid fuel and so there is no requirement to fit one near a gas boiler. It is still advisable as best practice however to protect your tenants lives.
The landlord is specifically required to carry out a check to ensure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are installed to comply with the Regulations, are in proper working order on the day a tenancy begins where it is a new tenancy.
While there are complex rules that denote what is classified as a new tenant, what is clear is the requirement to install detectors and alarms, which applies to tenancies in existence before October 1st 2015. So simply put, and our reading of the regulation, is that there is an ongoing obligation to ensure that any smoke alarm or carbon monoxide alarm installed to meet these requirements is in working order. Alarms should therefore be checked periodically to see that they are working properly. There is no reason why this responsibility should not be placed on the tenant and the government guidance does suggest the tenant check monthly. However, the landlord will then have to make sure that the tenant does actually carry out the checks. If challenged, a landlord could have to show that a proper system has been put in place to check alarms regularly.
Put simply, you must ensure you have a carbon monoxide alarm in every room that has a solid fuel-burning appliance and have it checked regularly and on the start of every tenancy.
BUT you have a duty of care and should protect your tenants by having a carbon monoxide alarm in any room that has any fossil fuel (coal, log, oil or gas) burning appliance.
The law in the UK – in detail
if you are interested in the detail we believe the best source of information is the residential landlords association website. You can find what you need to know here