Carbon Monoxide: What Landlords Have to Know About the Silent Killer

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning causes 40 deaths and 260 injuries every year in the UK. However, according to the Carbon Monoxide and Gas Safety Society, these are just the confirmed cases, and there there are likely to be many more that do not get reported.

CO is known as the silent killer. It has no smell, colour or taste, and the only way of detecting it is with a CO alarm. Landlords have a number of responsibilities towards their tenants to ensure they are safe from CO poisoning. If you are a landlord, here is what you need to know.

Annual Gas Safety Check

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 introduced a number of requirements for landlords. The main requirement is that you must arrange for a gas safety check of your property to be carried out every 12 months. This must be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer, who will need to check the appliances, pipe work and flues.

You must provide a copy of the safety check to every tenant within 28 days, and you must provide a copy to any new tenants who move in. You must also keep a record of the check for two years.

What if you use the services of an agent? In this case, you should make it clear in the contract who is responsible for the checks and keeping records. It is also worth mentioning that the landlord is not responsible for appliances that the tenant has bought for their own use, but that they do have responsibilities for parts of the pipework and installation.

HSE provides some excellent information on gas safety for landlords that is well worth reading.

CO Alarms Are Now a Requirement

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 are the latest regulations to be introduced regarding carbon monoxide. They came into effect in October 2015, and they make it a legal requirement for landlords to ensure they have one or more smoke alarms on each floor of the property, and a carbon monoxide alarm inside any room in the property where solid fuel is used (like open fires and stoves).

While CO alarms do not need to be installed in rooms where oil or gas appliances are installed, it is still a good idea to have alarms in these rooms as well.

The government has created an explanatory booklet for landlords in regards to smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, which you can download here. This covers your responsibilities as a landlord, which also include checking the alarms at the start of a new tenancy to ensure they are in good working order.

After this, the tenants should test alarms regularly, and they should inform you if they find that the alarms are not working.

The type of alarm is not stipulated, and it is up to you to make an informed decision. However, it should comply with British Standard EN 50291.

Failing to follow the rules could lead to a civil penalty of up to £5,000, so make sure you don't forget about your responsibilities towards your tenants.

Reduce the Risk of CO in Your Property

Make sure you follow all of the legal requirements regarding carbon monoxide to ensure your property is as safe as possible for your tenants. The silent killer is incredibly dangerous, but by taking the correct precautions, you can help to ensure that your tenants do not face any unnecessary risks.

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