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A Tenant's Guide To Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Detector Safety

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations 2015 state that every home that is privately rented property in England must have a smoke detector fitted on every floor.  Every room that contains a solid fuel burning appliance must also have a carbon monoxide detector fitted.

A working smoke alarm can save your life by giving an early warning of fire. Around 35 people die every year because their detectors don’t work. Your local fire and rescue service can also give you advice on fire safety in the home. It is your landlord’s duty to install working detectors.

What are the Landlord's responsibilities?
Your landlord must provide
- A smoke alarm on each floor of your home. These would normally be mounted on the ceiling on or below the stairs on each floor.
- A carbon monoxide (CO) detector in any room where there is a solid fuel appliance (solid fuels include oil, coal, and wood).
If you are a new tenant, your agent or landlord should check that all alarms are working at the start of your tenancy.

What are your responsibilities as a tenant?
As a tenant you must do the following:
- Test the smoke and any carbon monoxide alarms regularly. We would suggest once a month. Test it by pressing the button until the alarm sounds. If there is no sound:
- A standard battery-powered alarm needs a new battery.
- A sealed battery-powered long life (5-10 year) alarm needs to be completely replaced.
- A mains-powered alarm may need replacing by an electrician.
- Replace the batteries, provided the detectors have changeable batteries and you can access them safely.
- If the smoke detectors stop working you must report this to the managing agent or landlord (unless the issue is a flat battery in a changeable battery detector).
- If there is an expiry date on the detector that has elapsed, you must report this the managing agent or landlord.

Carbon monoxide
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odourless gas that can make you very ill or even kill you. CO poisoning can be a result of:
- Poorly maintained gas appliances.
- Incomplete burning of solid fuel.
- Poor ventilation in the home which allows CO to build up.

To prevent CO poisoning, your landlord must:
- Ensure gas appliances are serviced annually by a Gas Safe engineer.
- Provide a CO detector in every room containing a solid fuel burner.

Symptoms of CO poisoning
The initial symptoms of CO poisoning are often similar to flu – for example, dizziness, headaches, and nausea. Long term exposure can cause serious health problems, even paralysis and brain damage.
If you think you are at risk, switch off any appliance that could be faulty and open doors and windows to ventilate the room. Do not sleep in it. Report the problem to your landlord or agent as soon as possible and don’t re-light any appliance until it has been checked by a qualified person. Visit your GP urgently for a blood test.

Houses in multiple occupation
If you live in a licensed house in multiple occupation (HMO) your landlord must provide smoke alarms and keep them in working order. Depending on the type of HMO, the smoke detectors may need to be interlinked and hardwired with a battery back-up.