Following a consultation commenced last year, the Government have this week announced new regulations that will oblige registered providers of social housing to install, as a minimum, one smoke alarm on each storey of a building used wholly or partly as residential accommodation.

In addition, both providers and private landlords will be required by law to install carbon monoxide alarms in rented properties that have fixed combustion appliances like gas fires or boilers (excluding gas cookers) or must be installed at the time when such appliances are installed.

In circumstances where tenants report a faulty alarm, both providers and private sector landlords must ensure they are repaired or replaced. Providers will need to ensure that their disrepairs reporting processes are able to identify and prioritise required repairs and replacements.

Nonetheless, testing of the alarms will remain the responsibility of the tenant. It is therefore unclear how providers will approach this, and how often faulty alarms will be identified if routine testing is not undertaken. Further guidance from the Government may be released, which may address these issues.

These changes will be brought about through amendments to the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 and the statutory guidance (Approved Document J) supporting Part J of the Building Regulations.

The requirements will no doubt be welcome across the social housing sector and reflect the importance of the safety of tenants, which according to the National Housing Federation already has smoke alarms in 95% of social homes. Providers will need to ensure they keep the changes and any subsequent guidance under review, to ensure they can effectively and appropriately the requirements.

As a result, providers will need to keep under review how to implement these requirements, taking into account any further guidance issued. For more detailed advice in relation to these issues please contact Amy Callahan-Page or Lorna Kenyon.