Landlords, Smoke alarms and Carbon Monoxide detectors: Whose Job Is It To Change The Batteries?

picture of a smoke detector alarm
Renters' Rights  >  Landlords, Smoke alarms and Carbon Monoxide detectors: Whose Job Is It To Change The Batteries?
By
Ben Yarrow
Updated
13 February 2024
Posted
21 March 2023

If you’ve ever had to live with the incessant beeping of a smoke alarm running low on power then you’ll know the importance of getting the batteries changed.

Joking aside, the importance of having a working fire alarm and carbon monoxide detector in your rented property is literally life or death, but is it your job to make sure it's working, or the landlord’s? 

While UK law is very clear that landlords must have working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in all rental properties, there can be some confusion about whose job it is to make sure they are still working.

 

So what does the law say about landlord and smoke detectors? 

All properties built since June 1992 have to have a hard-wired smoke alarm installed on every floor used as living accommodation, and a carbon monoxide detector in all properties where a solid fuel heating appliance has been installed since 1 October 2010 - that’s according to Building Regulations.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations say landlords have to have a smoke alarm (hard wired or battery powered) on each storey of a property which contains a room being used as living accommodation. Heat detectors are not a replacement for smoke alarms.

A Carbon monoxide alarm must be fitted in any room being used as living accommodation where there is a fixed combustion appliance other than a gas cooker - that’s any fixed apparatus that burns fuel for heat, for example a wood burner or a gas or oil boiler.

Landlords are also required by law to arrange a gas safety inspection every year - this can pick up carbon monoxide dangers from gas appliances which then have to be disconnected until repaired. 

Landlords must provide alarms that alert by vibration or flashing light on request under the Equality Act 2010. 

Local authorities can fine a landlord up to £5,000 where they have been found to not have alarms where required and failed to act on a remedial notice.

 

Remember: you can rate your landlord on Marks Out Of Tenancy.

 

So is it your landlords responsibility to maintain smoke alarms? 

The government guidance says Landlords must check the alarms at the start of each new tenancy and they are responsible for repairing or replacing any faulty alarms.

If tenants find that their alarms are not in working order during the tenancy, they are advised to arrange for the replacement of the batteries.

If the alarm still does not work after replacing the batteries, or if tenants are unable to replace the batteries themselves, they should report this to the landlord.

The Fire Service recommends you test your smoke alarm once a week, or once a month at minimum, by pressing the test button until the alarm sounds. If you find the batteries have run out, replace them yourself or if you’re not confident doing so, give your landlord a ring and they should get it sorted for you ASAP.

 

Exceptions to the smoke alarm rules

The following tenancies are excluded from the regulations:

  • shared accommodation with a landlord or landlord’s family
  • long leases
  • student halls of residence
  • hotels and refuges
  • care homes
  • hospitals and hospices
  • low cost ownership homes
  • other accommodation relating to health care provision