The current Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations were approved by Parliament and came into force on 1st October 2015.
The Regulations state that private sector landlords must have at least one smoke alarm installed on every floor of their properties and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (for example a coal fire or wood burning stove). The regulations do not stipulate where the alarms should be placed, just that at least one smoke alarm should be on every storey and a carbon monoxide alarm in every room containing a solid fuel burning appliance. You should follow the individual manufacturer’s instructions when installing the alarms.
However, in general, smoke alarms should be fixed to the ceiling in a circulation space, i.e. a hall or a landing; and carbon monoxide alarms should be positioned at head height; either on a wall or shelf, approximately 1 to 3 metres away from a potential source of carbon monoxide.
Following these actions, the landlord must make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.
According to the government, working alarms save lives – in the event of a fire in your home, you are at least 4 times more likely to die if there is no working smoke alarm
Battery technology is perfectly acceptable; a recent survey found that the majority of landlords thought that they are obliged to install mains powered alarms, but this is not the situation. The units themselves have become more sophisticated and can be purchased with a 10-year sealed battery unit. They are typically cheaper, and in fact more convenient option than the mains powered equivalent.
The Local Government Association (LGA) produced figures which showed that firefighters attended more than 7,500 fires in homes with battery-powered alarms in 2018; and found that 38% of the units had failed to alert residents of the danger. Incorrect positioning caused 45% of the failures, while missing, or faulty batteries caused 20%.
The LGA are urging people to test their detectors more often; especially now, as we enter the festive time of the year; when decorations, candles and Christmas lighting can pose a greater risk.
After the landlord’s test on the first day of the tenancy, tenants should take responsibility for their own safety and test all alarms regularly, to make sure they are in working order. Testing monthly is generally considered an appropriate frequency for smoke alarms. If tenants find that their alarm(s) are not in working order during the tenancy, they are advised to arrange the replacement of the batteries or the alarm itself with the relevant landlord.