The government website confirms that during 2019/20, fire and rescue services attended nearly 30,000 dwelling fires in England and sadly there were nearly 200 fire-related fatalities. Around 20 people die from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning every year (excluding those relating to accidental exposure to smoke, fire and flames).
A consultation exercise was held between 17 November 2020 and 11 January 2021 regarding potential changes to the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations (England) 2015. This was following the government’s Social Housing Green Paper which was published in August 2018.
Following the consultation exercise, the government have announced that new regulations relating to smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are expected to come into force from as early as Autumn 2022 with no grace period. Landlords of residential properties are therefore being encouraged to act now in order to ensure that their properties are compliant with the upcoming changes.
As landlords of Methodist Model Trust property, Managing Trustees need to be aware of the new regulations as they will change the responsibility for repairs to as well as the location of the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
Since October 2015, landlords in England have had the responsibility to install a smoke alarm on every floor of their rental property that has a room which is used completely or partially as living accommodation. In every room where solid fuel is burnt, a carbon monoxide alarm must be installed. This includes the burning of wood, coal or biomass and also covers open fires. However, it does not include gas, oil, or LPG.
At the start of each tenancy, the landlord or agent must test the alarms' function and replace them if they do not work.
The current regulations only require the landlord to ensure that the alarms are in working order on the first day of a new tenancy.
In Wales, landlords have to ensure that at least one smoke alarm is installed on each floor. At the beginning of each tenancy the smoke alarms must be in good working order. With regard to carbon monoxide alarms, these have to be fitted in every room with a solid fuel burning appliance.
New Regulations expected to come into force
It will be mandatory to install carbon monoxide alarms in any room with a fixed combustion appliance (this appears to mean a fixed appliance which is designed to burn solid fuel, gas or oil but not including gas cookers) – this covers both private (including Methodist Model Trust Property) and social rental properties.
If any new heating appliance is installed (again not including gas cookers) then it will also be mandatory to install a carbon monoxide alarm in the room – this will also be covered through building regulations and applies to all tenancies. This means that if a new appliance is installed during the tenancy a carbon monoxide alarm would then need to be installed (if there was not one in the room already).
If any of the alarms are broken, private (including Methodist Model Trust Property) as well as social landlords are obliged to repair or replace them as soon as the fault has been made known to them.
All social rented properties must have smoke alarms.
The new regulations will only cover rented accommodation in England and Wales – Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own regulations.
Action to be taken
For any properties which the Managing Trustees let and are managed by a letting agent then the letting agents will be aware of the changes and responsibilities of the landlord to ensure the property complies with the new regulations prior to any letting taking place. Managing Trustees should however double check the position.
For those properties which are managed by the Managing Trustees themselves it is extremely important for them to ensure that no property is let without compliance with the new regulations.
TMCP are in the process of updating the list of statutory requirements that need to be fulfilled before a tenancy is entered into which will include a requirement for confirmation to be provided that the new regulations have been complied with. This is, in addition to the usual charity law and Methodist law and policy requirements being in order for us to concur with the letting.
Please see the Residential Tenancies page on the TMCP website for guidance on the residential letting of Methodist Model Trust property.
Consequences of failing to comply with regulations
Any landlord found to have not complied with the regulations could face a fine. The amount of the fine is yet to be determined.
If you have any queries in relation to the guidance in this document please contact TMCP Legal for further assistance.