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Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms in Private Rented Housing


This Technical Bulletin aims to provide clarity on the regulations concerning the provision of smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in private rented housing and, in the case of Scotland, all private dwellings. It is not intended to apply to licenced houses in multiple occupation to which enhanced fire safety requirements normally apply.

Statutory guidance emphasises the point that landlords should be mindful that the provision of carbon monoxide alarms should not be regarded as a substitute for the correct installation and servicing of combustion appliances.

The position in respect of the separate constituent countries/regions across the UK differs considerably and is summarised below.



Under the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide (Amendment) Regulations 2022, duties are placed on landlords of private residential premises requiring that they:

  • Ensure at least one smoke alarm is equipped on each storey of their homes where there is a room used as living accommodation. This has been a legal requirement in the private rented sector since 2015.

  • Ensure a carbon monoxide alarm is equipped in any room used as living accommodation which contains a fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers).

  • Ensure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are repaired or replaced once informed and found that they are faulty.

The requirements are enforced by local authorities who can impose a fine of up to £5,000 where a landlord fails to comply with a remedial notice.

The regulations do not stipulate the type of alarms (such as hard wired or battery powered) to be installed. Instead, it is the intention that landlords should make an informed decision on the most appropriate alarms for their properties and tenants.

Unlike the regulations in Scotland (see below), smoke alarms are not required to be interlinked. Also, carbon monoxide alarms are only required in rooms containing a solid fuel burning appliance such as an open fire, log burning stove, etc. However, the statutory guidance to the regulations states that reputable landlords would be expected and encouraged to also install carbon monoxide alarms in all rooms containing gas appliances.



Similar legislative requirements to those in England apply in Wales under the Renting Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation (Wales) Regulations 2022. However, the Welsh legislation has gone a step further than the English regulations stipulating that all smoke alarms must be hard-wired into the property and inter-linked either wirelessly or using a wired system.


Landlords are also required to fit a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a fuel burning appliance. This differs from the regulations for England as it includes gas cookers. 



Scottish legislation introduced in February 2022 requires that an interlinked fire and smoke alarm system must be fitted in all residential property (whether rented or owner occupied), the responsibility for which rests with the property owner.

Fire and smoke alarms are required to be interlinked and this can be achieved via traditional cabling or wireless methods.  If battery alarms are used, they must be sealed tamper- proof units and have long-life lithium batteries.

Under these new requirements, every home must have:

  • One smoke alarm in the living room or the room most commonly used for general daytime living purposes.

  • One smoke alarm in every hallway and landing.

  • One heat alarm in every kitchen.


All smoke and heat alarms should be mounted on the ceiling and be interlinked,  

In addition, a carbon monoxide detector must be installed in any room containing a carbon-fuelled appliance such as a boiler, open fire, heater or flue, but these are not required to be linked to the fire alarms.

If an area is open plan, one alarm can cover the whole room provided it can be located where it is no more than 7.5 metres from any point in the room. If the space includes a kitchen area it should be a heat alarm rather than a smoke alarm.

Further information is available here. 

The statutory guidance states that landlords should ensure that smoke and heat alarms are regularly maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations, and that as good practice landlords should advise tenants to test the alarms on a weekly basis.



Whilst there are no specific regulations concerning the installation of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) recommends that the standard of fire safety in private rental properties should be at least equivalent to the current fire safety standards expected in a modern domestic property.  Tenants renting a private property should expect:

  • Working smoke alarms (preferably interlinked) situated on every floor of the property which should be tested weekly by the tenant;

  • CO detectors/alarms fitted in every room where a fuel burning appliance is installed. 

Other fire safety measures include:

  • A fire blanket to be provided within the kitchen area;

  • Gas appliances and internal oil fired boilers to be checked/serviced annually;

  • Flues/chimneys that are used to be swept regularly;

  • Any electrical appliances provided by the landlord to be PAT tested and safe to use;

  • The electrical wiring system (meter box, sockets, light fittings and light switches) in the property to have been checked and is safe to use;

  • Furniture and furnishings provided by the landlord should meet The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 as amended.



Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should be selected  selected from products complying with the relevant BS EN Standards and which have the BSI Kitemark and CE mark. It is also essential that they are installed, used and maintained in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions. In respect of rented accommodation, a copy of the manufacturers’ user guide should be included in the information provided to tenants and the importance of weekly testing and maintenance  emphasised.

Fire detection systems in domestic buildings falls under BS5839: Part 6: – Fire Detection and Fire Alarm Systems for Buildings – Code of practice for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire detection and alarm systems in domestic premises. Significant changes to this BS have been made in recent years, details of which are available here.


In respect of surveys where access to private rented housing (houses, flats, maisonettes, etc.) is obtained, it is essential that checks are made that landlords are compliant with their statutory obligations (in the case of Northern Ireland, with the recommendations of the NIFRS) regarding the installation of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Where this is not the case, a risk improvement shall be raised based on standard wordings.

In circumstances where access is unobtainable, underwriters are to be advised in the body of the report to obtain written confirmation from the Insured that all statutory obligations concerning the installation of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms have been fulfilled.



As a point of interest, the provision of carbon monoxide alarms is the subject of BS EN 50292: Electrical apparatus for the detection of carbon monoxide in domestic premises, caravans and boats - Guide on the selection, installation, use and maintenance.

Under BS EN 50292, carbon monoxide alarms should be installed in the following areas:

  • Rooms that contain any fuel burning appliances – such as an open fire, gas cooker or boiler.

  • Rooms where people spend the most time – such as a living room.

  • Rooms where people sleep.

  • Any room through which a flue from a burning appliance passes.

This exceeds the legal requirements in England, Scotland and Wales where it is assumed that the regulators considered them, rightly or wrongly, to be too onerous a requirement.

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