The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations of 2015 state that all rental properties should be fitted with a working smoke alarm on each floor of the property. They also state that it’s the landlord’s responsibility to check the alarm is in working order at the start of the tenancy. Failure to provide a property with working smoke alarms carries a £5,000 fine. But once you’ve fitted and checked the alarm to ensure it’s functioning, it’s the tenant’s responsibility to keep it in working order. So, from the point of view of protecting your property, how can you make sure the alarm is doing its job properly?
To maximise your alarm's capabilities, make sure that your alarm is fixed to the ceiling at least 30cms away from any walls (or other dead air spaces) and make sure it’s not placed directly above a furnace or stove to avoid false readings. Make sure that each alarm is audible from the bedrooms of the property for obvious reasons.
Advise your tenants to check the alarms every month. Most alarms have a test button, which you simply need to push. If the alarm doesn’t have a test button (or doesn’t go off when you press it), light a couple of matches and blow the flame towards the alarm. If you don’t hear anything change the battery and try again. If you still don’t hear anything the alarm probably needs replacing.
Don’t change the battery
In times of emergency (the football starts in five minutes and the remote’s dead for example!) it can be tempting to take the battery from the smoke alarm, with a view to replacing it later. Very few people ever remember to replace the battery later, rendering the alarm completely useless. It’s highly worth advising tenants not to interfere with the battery to avoid these instances.
Luckily smoke alarms don’t need to be replaced as often as they need to be checked, but a good rule of thumb is to replace the alarm every decade or so, regardless of whether it’s still working. This is one area in which it’s important to keep up to date with technology. Because if your property doesn’t have working smoke alarms that comply with the regulations, the consequences could be much more serious than just a fine.
For more information about how to test your smoke alarm, why not download our free How to Test Your Smoke Alarm flyer?