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Smoke Alarms, Carbon Monoxide Detectors and Legionella: Landlords' Responsibilities

Published Thursday, September 24, 2015

This short briefing paper lays out the requirements on private landlords with reference to smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and the avoidance of Legionnaires’ Disease (caused by the Legionella bacteria).

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Prior to 1 October 2015 there was no statutory requirement on all private landlords to install smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detectors in their properties. The Government have addressed this, following consultation, via the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/1693) which came into force on 1 October 2015.

These Regulations require that smoke alarms be installed on every storey of a rented property and that carbon monoxide detectors be installed in any room housing a solid fuel combustion appliance.

Draft Regulations were brought before Parliament on 16th March 2015. They were considered by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments. That Committee reported doubts over whether the regulations were intra vires; as well as over their drafting and the extent of their powers. Subsequently the Regulations were considered by the Lords Grand Committee on 7 September 2015 where the motion to consider was negatived, raising doubts about whether the Regulations would gain the necessary approval of both Houses of Parliament in time for implementation on 1 October. However, they were approved by the Commons (without debate) and Lords on 15 September.

The Government has published an explanatory booklet for landlords, giving details on the regulations and also a booklet for local authorities.

In terms of Legionnaires’ Disease (caused by Legionella bacteria), a number of consultants and letting agents appear to have mistaken guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for new legislation requiring landlords of private rented property to seek Legionella testing certificates. This is not the case and the legislation on landlords’ duties with relation to Legionnaires’ Disease has not changed.

Landlords have a duty to ensure that their properties are free from health and safety hazards. This includes, inter alia, carrying out a risk assessment to assess for conditions that can encourage the spread of Legionella and subsequently mitigating or controlling such conditions. Provided an adequate knowledge of the property’s water system and what to look for in terms of the Legionella bacteria exist; there is no reason why a landlord cannot conduct this assessment themselves.

Specific guidance on Legionella and the legal responsibilities of landlords can be found on the Health and Safety Executive website: Legionella and landlords’ responsibilities.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7307

Author: Shiro Ota

Topics: Housing, Housing standards, Private rented housing

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