How do new rules on smoke and carbon monoxide alarms affect farming properties?

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New regulations will make it compulsory for all landlords to fit smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in rented homes from October 1 2015. Julie Liddle, director of Robson & Liddle, explains how the new rules will impact upon landlords of farming and rural properties.

Draft regulations were published earlier in the year to require private sector landlords to install at least one smoke alarm on every storey of their rental property from October 1 2015, providing local authorities with the power to fine landlords who fail to comply up to £5,000.

There’s been controversy surrounding the legislation in recent weeks after the House of Lords rejected the draft legislation at its final stage on the basis that the government had not done enough to inform landlords of the changes in time to meet the deadline, and that the legislation was poorly worded. Understandably, this has led to confusion and criticism from landlords.

However, the legislation has now been approved and will be enforced from October 1, so landlords need to be aware of the rules and make the necessary changes to avoid running the risk of a fine.

The rules for new tenancies (Starting on or after October 1 2015)

  • Landlords must install a smoke alarm on each storey of a let property on which there is a room used as living accommodation (includes WC).
  • Landlords must install a carbon monoxide alarm in every room that has a solid fuel burning combustion appliance, for example a log burner, open fire, log burning AGA etc.
  • Checks must be made by or on behalf of the landlord ensuring that all alarms are working on the day the tenancy begins.

The rules for existing tenancies

  • Landlords must install a smoke alarm on each storey of a let property on which there is a room used as living accommodation (including WC) by October 1 2015.
  • Landlords must install a carbon monoxide alarm in every room that has a solid fuel burning combustion appliance.

The rules for agricultural tenancies

Certain long leases are likely to be excluded from the regulations. For example, Farm Business Tenancies (those under the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1996) of longer than seven years are likely to be excluded.

However, agricultural tenancies under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986, are usually year-to-year tenancies, so these farmhouses will be included in the legislation.

If you are an agricultural landlord, it is imperative you check with your legal and property advisers to ensure your properties are compliant with the legislation.

Other excluded tenancies include student halls of residence, hostels, care homes, hospitals and hospices, other healthcare accommodation and shared accommodation with landlord or the landlord’s family.

For more information on the new laws for smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in leased properties, call Julie on 01768 254 354.