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Landlords face £5k fines for not fitting smoke alarms

Landlords in Hackney could now be fined £5,000 if they don’t install the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms necessary to help keep their tenants safe.

The measure was agreed by the Council’s cabinet on Monday, following new national regulations which came into force last October. It is up to individual councils what associated enforcement and penalty charging regime they put in place.

Hackney is one of the first to establish its policy and chose the maximum fine permitted of £5,000.

The Council had been calling on Government to introduce these tighter regulations as part of its campaign ‘10 Steps to Better Private Renting for Tenants and Landlords’.

Cllr Philip Glanville, Cabinet Member for Housing
We’d called for this extra level of protection for tenants so it’s great that we’re now able to put it into action.

“These alarms are not expensive and there is no excuse for a landlord not to install and regularly test them. We know most landlords take their responsibilities seriously and we don’t want to be put in the position where we’re issuing £5,000 fines. However, we will be taking a zero tolerance approach to any irresponsible landlord who fails to meet these new regulations.
Cllr Philip Glanville, Cabinet Member for Housing

The requirements, under the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015, apply to new tenancies created after 1 October, 2015. Landlords will be obligated to provide at least one smoke alarm on every storey in each of their rented properties. Carbon monoxide alarms must be installed in any room which contains a solid fuel burning appliance.

About 32,000 properties in Hackney will be subject to the regulations, as new tenancies are issued.

Should the Council have grounds to believe a landlord is in breach of the regulations it will serve a notice requiring them to install and test the required alarm(s). The type of alarms needed typically cost between £20 and £50 each and are powered by a 10 year duration battery.

If the landlord fails to comply with the notice within 28 days the Council will arrange for an authorised person, after giving 48 hours’ notice to the tenant, to attend the property and install and test the required alarm(s). The Council can impose a penalty charge of up to £5,000 on a landlord who has failed to comply with the notice.

The new regulations do not apply to licensed Houses in Multiple Occupation because more comprehensive fire safety requirements already apply under existing licensing conditions. However, the regulations amend those licence conditions to include carbon monoxide alarms where appropriate.

The following types of accommodation are also exempt as in most cases other similar safety regulations already apply:

  • Accommodation shared with the landlord or family
  • Long leases of seven years or more
  • Student halls of residence
  • Hostels and refuges
  • Care homes
  • Hospitals and hospices
  • Other accommodation relating to healthcare provision

More detail on the new regulations is available in the cabinet paper, and information for private renters and landlords about their rights and responsibilities is available on the Council website.