Did you know one in three people in the UK have never tested their smoke alarm? Or that, as a landlord, it falls under your remit to test all smoke alarms on your property at the commencement of each tenancy (but not on renewal)?
Under the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations of 2015, it’s the legal responsibility of landlords to check that each detector is working effectively on the first day of a new tenancy (after that its maintenance is the tenant’s responsibility). These regulations were put into place to increase fire and carbon monoxide safety across the country - and to tackle the hundreds of thousands of untested alarms out there! But beyond them, there are also a number of additional best practice steps a landlord should be taking to safeguard his property.
Don’t just check the alarm is working on the first day of the tenancy – ensure that your tenant signs a document attesting to the check you’ve made. This document will form part of an audit trail to protect you should there be an issue with the alarm later down the track.
First response measures
The regulations require a rental property to have a smoke alarm on every floor of the property but it might also be worth considering installing a heat alarm in the kitchen. While this shouldn’t be relied on to cover the entire storey (heat alarms only detect at short distances), it could serve as a valuable first alert if a fire were to break out in the kitchen.
Are the alarms loud enough?
Make sure all alarms are audible from the bedrooms of the property – for obvious reasons, fires starting while tenants are asleep are one of the most high-risk fire events.
Test the alarms
Ensure your tenants test their smoke alarms frequently. Although it’s not your responsibility as a landlord, the idea that tenants should know how the alarm works is in your interests as much as theirs. Remind them to keep the alarms clean and change the batteries annually to keep the alarms in top condition.
Replace the alarms
No matter what condition the alarms are in, you should replace them every ten years or so. Modifications and improves are being made all the time and it’s worth the investment to ensure you keep your property and your tenants safe.
For more information on smoke alarm safety, why not download our free How to Test Your Smoke Alarm flyer?