Carbon Monoxide Detectors - Should you supply one for your buy to let?

As most landlords know, the regulations regarding Smoke Alarms changed in October 2015. 

According to The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015, all rented residential properties in England are now required to have smoke alarms fitted on each floor of the property. Not doing so can lead to a fine of up to £5,000.

Many landlords do not know that the same set of legislation also set out standards for carbon monoxide detectors.

The standards on fitting CO detectors, as of 2015

While not all properties need a carbon monoxide detector fitting, it can’t hurt to fit alarms to all the properties in your portfolio. The regulations state that a Carbon Monoxide Alarm is only required to be fitted in any room where it is possible to burn solid fuel (such as a wood-burner or a coal/mixed fuel fire).

Several types of accommodation are excepted from the regulations, though, including:

  • A dwelling shared with the landlord, or a member of the landlord’s family
  • Long leases (for 7 years or more)
  • Student Halls of Residence
  • Hostels and refuges
  • Care Homes, hospitals, hospices and other healthcare-related accommodation

Your duty to check and maintain detectors and alarms

If the tenancy agreement came into effect after October 1 2015, the landlord is responsible for checking all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms fitted in a property at the beginning of that tenancy. While you aren’t technically required to test them thereafter, most gas fitters and engineers can check your CO detectors when they do their annual boiler service. Doing both at once is certainly more convenient, and saves a great deal of time.

Placing CO detectors and alarms effectively

On a practical level, the best height to fit a Carbon Monoxide Alarm is at head height in any room which has an appliance capable of burning fuel. It is also recommended to supply and fit sealed for life battery units, as prevent tenants from tampering with the battery compartment.

Units can be fitted on shelves, but should be at least 15 cm below ceiling height and a minimum a metre away from the fuelled appliance. Be sure that if a detector is fitted the display can be easily seen and it is not easy to obstruct it.

Rather than a simple detector, consider fitting a more advanced Carbon Monoxide Alarm. This is generally a better option, as it will emit an audible alert if excessive carbon monoxide is detected.