Final Countdown for New Carbon Monoxide Rules

New carbon monoxide alarm rules for private rented homes in England are due to come into force on October 1.

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (Amendment) Regulations 2022 build on existing rules for buy-to-lets in England.

Licensed shared houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) are exempt only because the regulations also amend the HMO licensing obligations in the Housing Act 2004 to impose similar requirements.

The regulations dictate that landlords must:

  • Fit a carbon monoxide alarm in any living room fitted with a fixed combustion appliance, although gas cookers are excluded from the appliance list.
  • Repair or replace any carbon monoxide alarm as soon as the device is reported faulty

Failing to follow the rules could lead to a maximum £5,000 fine.

What type of alarms should landlords fit?

The type of alarm and where it is fitted are not stipulated under the new rules. Instead, government guidance suggests landlords should make their choices according to the needs of tenants and the building where they live.

Who changes the batteries?

Landlords should ensure smoke and carbon monoxide alarms work at the start of a tenancy.

According to the government guidance, if the batteries run out during the tenancy, the renter should change them.

If the alarm fails to work after changing the batteries, the tenant should log a repair request with the landlord.

What are fixed combustion appliances?

Fixed combustion appliances burn fuel to generate heat. These appliances are generally powered by gas, oil, coal or wood, like gas or oil-burning boilers or a wood-burning stove. The regulations apply to space heaters rather than cookers. However, a decorative fireplace not used as a space heater is not a fixed combustion appliance.

How can tenants test their alarms?

Each make and model of alarm has a simple test that involves no special skills. Tenants should regularly test their alarms, although the guidance does not specify how often.

Do landlords need special alarms for disabled tenants?

The guidance does not specify that landlords should use particular alarms for the disabled but does say they should fit the most appropriate devices to match the needs of tenants. For example, flashing lights or vibrating alarms should be provided for tenants who are hard of hearing.

Do landlords need heat detectors as well as alarms?

No, the regulations do not cover heat detectors, which are not replacements for carbon monoxide or smoke alarms.

Should live-in landlords follow the rules?

No,  the regulations do not apply if a renter shares a home with their landlord. For these regulations, sharing means the landlord and tenant use a kitchen, bathroom or living room.

What do the new regulations cover?

The regulations cover buy-to-lets and unlicensed HMOs in England. Scotland and Wales have different rules.

What is the scale of the problem?

Official data shows renters are likelier to die in a fire than homeowners; 700,000 homes have non-functioning alarms, while 1.5 million homes have no alarms. The English Housing Survey found six per cent of privately rented homes had mon-working alarms, compared with three per cent of owner-occupied homes and two per cent of social housing.

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide gas is an invisible killer with no smell or taste and is highly toxic to people and animals. Around 30 people a year die from carbon monoxide poisoning in their homes in England and Wales. Another 4,000 people are hospitalised for treatment.

What are the critical dates for the new rules?

The regulations come into force on October 1, 2022. Landlords must comply with them from that date.

Find out more

Official government guidance is online at The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (Amendment) Regulations 2022

View Related Handbook Page

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 affect almost every rented property (including existing tenancies) and commenced on 1 October 2015.