New fire safety regulations introduced – what do landlords need to know?
Thu 27 Jan 2022
A new fire and smoke alarm law is set to come into effect next week which will require every household in Scotland to update their current system.
From February 1 2022, all homes in Scotland must have interlinked alarms to reduce the risk of fire, injury and damage to property.
Being interlinked means if one alarm goes off, they all go off. Tenants may not always hear the alarm closest to the fire, especially if they are somewhere else in the home.
As a landlord, it is your responsibility to ensure that your property meets the new standards. Below, we set out the new requirements and how landlords can be prepared for the changes ahead of February 1.
What are the new rules?
As of next week, a smoke alarm must be installed in the room used most for daytime living – for example, a living room or lounge.
Others will have to be placed in ‘circulation spaces’ such as hallways or landings on every floor of the property. In addition, all smoke alarms must be interlinked and mounted on the ceiling.
A heat alarm must also be installed in every kitchen, and a carbon monoxide detector should be placed in any property where there is a carbon-fuelled appliance such as a boiler, fire or heater.
The legislation was originally due to come into force last year, but was delayed by the Scottish Government due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
There have been further calls recently to delay it again, with MSP Graham Simpson accusing the government ministers of ‘ploughing ahead’ with the plans, despite many homeowners still being ‘completely unaware’ of the changes.
However, last week, Housing Secretary Shona Robinson said the regulations are ‘designed to protect and save lives’ and there will be ‘no penalties for non-compliance’, stressing that people will not face penalties if they need more time.
Which alarms are compliant?
The Scottish Government has advised landlords and homeowners to fit tamper-proof long-life lithium battery alarms in their homes, which can last up to 10 years. These can be fitted yourself and do not require an electrician.
Should you choose mains-wired alarms, though, they must be installed by a qualified electrician and replaced every 10 years. You may also need to redecorate them once they’re fitted.
If you also need a carbon monoxide alarm and it is battery-operated, it must have a sealed tamper-proof battery for the duration of its lifespan.
It is important to note that the Nest Protect System does not meet the requirements for a heat alarm under the relevant British Standard. British Standard (BS 5839-6:2019) states that only heat alarms should be installed in kitchens.
More information on the standard, including the most suitable alarm types, can be viewed in the Tolerable Standard Guidance Chapters 16 and 17.
How can landlords prepare?
Ahead of the new regulations, Advice Direct Scotland, which runs the national consumer advice service consumeradvice.scot, issued guidance to landlords and homeowners about the new system.
It warns that properties which fail to meet the conditions could impact their home report when it comes to be sold and, in some extreme cases, home insurance policies could become void.
The government estimates that the changes for a three bedroom house, requiring three smoke alarms, one heat alarm and one carbon monoxide detector will cost around £220.
Landlords and owner occupiers will be expected to pay for any new equipment in most circumstances. However, your local council may offer discretionary advice and funding to assist with the cost.
Between 2018 and 2020, the Scottish Government has provided the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) with £1 million funding to install these alarms in the homes of people assessed to be at high risk from fire as part of a home fire safety visit.
With greater importance placed on fire safety in the home following the Grenfell tragedy, landlords must do their part to keep on top of the latest regulation. While there is no penalty for non-compliance, you should check your property meets the new standards to prevent the potential impact on insurance policies and, more importantly, your tenants’ wellbeing.
Full details of your obligations regarding fire, smoke and heat detection in your rental property can be found here.
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