The law is not straightforward. It is different for each country in the United Kingdom and in Europe and it differs for different situations like landlord properties, domestic properties and in leisure vehicles.
Here we outline the key components of the law and try and make this complex legal situation as clear as we can. We do not go into detail here but simply outline the important principles so it's easy to understand. In truth it's not simple or clear.
However what is clear is that any fossil fuel burning appliance can omit dangerous carbon monoxide and can kill. So our advice is be protected with a carbon monoxide alarm.
England and Wales
In England there is no legal requirement for either landlords or gas companies to install alarms where there are gas appliances, which is farcical in our view given the more comprehensive law in neighbouring countries.
The exception to this is landlords. There is a duty for private landlords to fit a carbon monoxide alarm in a room with a solid fuel appliance in England and Wales. This came into effect from 1st of October 2015.
In England and Wales there is also a duty, under the Building Regulations, to install a carbon monoxide alarm when a solid fuel heating system is installed, such as a wood burning stove. Specifically:
- New builds have to have mains powered units with battery back up
- Significant extension have to have main powered units with battery back ups.
In Scotland the law requires at least one carbon monoxide alarm in every space containing a fixed combustion appliance but excludes appliances used solely for cooking.
An alarm is required where a flue passes through high-risk accommodation, such as a bedroom or main living room.
This legislation took effect from 1 October 2013.
In Northern Ireland the law requires that where any combustion appliance is installed, reasonable provision shall be made to detect and give warning of the presence of carbon monoxide gas at levels harmful to people.
In Ireland the law is most comprehensive. Carbon monoxide alarms are compulsory in homes since September 1st 2014. Changes in building regulations require householders to ensure alarms are fitted when new or replacement boilers, fires, heaters and stoves are installed. Building firms are required to make sure the alarms are fitted in new homes.
Carbon monoxide detectors are required in rooms where an appliance is fitted, as well as in or near bedrooms. They are also mandatory in habitable rooms where a chimney is attached to any heat-producing appliance.
We believe that only Ireland has got it right so far. Our suggestion, irrespective of the current law, is for you to take responsibility for the risks and lives or people in your own property and get protected.