Smoke and CO Alarms and Electrics
The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 introduced a ‘fitness for human habitation’ requirement for all occupation contracts.
Part of the fitness test is there must be a working mains interlinked smoke alarm on each storey, a carbon monoxide alarm in every room with a relevant appliance and electrical reports must be provided to contract-holders.
The Renting Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) (Wales) Regulations 2022 are the regulations introducing the new rules.
A landlord must ensure there’s a smoke alarm fitted connected to the mains and interlinked on each storey of the dwelling from the following dates:
For new occupation contracts granted from the start of the Act, the duty applies from the occupation date of the agreement (the date the contract-holder is entitled to move in).
If the tenancy existed before the rules and is a converted contract, there is a 12-month grace period.
If a substitute (renewal) contract is given from when the Act starts, the duty applies from the occupation date (including renewing a converted contract).
For the duration of the contract, at least one of the smoke alarms on each storey must be –
- in repair and proper working order,
- connected to the dwelling’s electrical supply, and
- linked to every other smoke alarm connected to the electrical supply in the dwelling.
If there is more than one smoke alarm on each storey, as long as at least one is connected to the mains, others don’t have to be. The others could be 10-year batteries, and the interlinking only applies to linking all smoke alarms connected to the mains.
There’s no requirement for the landlord to test the smoke alarms routinely during the contract, but they must be in repair and in proper working order. If a contract-holder reports a faulty alarm (including the replacement of a battery), it must be repaired by the landlord. They will need testing before a new occupier moves in because the fitness rules require the dwelling to be fit “on the occupation date”.
The dwelling will be deemed unfit for human habitation when the landlord does not comply with the above requirements until smoke alarms are present and in repair and working order.
Carbon monoxide Alarms
From the commencement of the Act, the landlord must ensure that a CO alarm is in repair and in proper working order in each dwelling room, which contains a gas appliance, an oil-fired combustion appliance or a solid fuel burning combustion appliance. The duty applies to all existing (converted) and new from that date.
A gas appliance means an appliance for:
- cooking or
- other purposes for which gas can be used,
But it does not include-
- a portable or mobile appliance supplied with gas from a cylinder, or the cylinder, pipes and other fittings used for providing gas to that appliance, or
- an appliance which the contract-holder is entitled to remove from the dwelling under the terms of the occupation contract
A room includes-
- landing or
There’s no requirement that a CO alarm is fitted to the dwelling’s electrical supply, so a seven or 10-year battery version would be acceptable.
That being said, if you fit new smoke alarms (which have to be mains interlinked), it’s sensible to make the CO alarm mains powered whilst on.
There also appears to be no issue with having a combined smoke and CO alarm fitted as long as the CO alarm is in an appropriate room.
Note: CO alarms must be in the room which contains a gas, oil-fired or solid fuel appliance, whereas smoke alarms are on each storey of the dwelling.
Like smoke alarms, there’s no requirement for the landlord to test routinely during the contract, but the CO alarm would need to be repaired if reported. They will need testing before a new occupier moves in because the fitness rules require the dwelling to be fit “on the occupation date”.
The dwelling will be deemed unfit for human habitation when the landlord does not comply with the above requirements until CO alarms are present and in repair and working order.
Example of the positioning of smoke and CO alarms
Suppose a dwelling has two storeys with a gas cooker in the kitchen and a boiler in the hallway. The following would be required:
- Mains interlinked smoke alarms on each storey (usually in the hallways to protect the escape route)
- CO alarm in the kitchen (for the cooker) and
- CO alarm in the hallway (for the boiler).
The hallway with the boiler could be a smoke and CO alarm combined as long as connected to the mains and interlinked.
Electrical reports and confirmation of work
One of the fitness requirements is to ensure a valid electrical condition report is in force during any period of occupation. To be valid, the condition report must be at most five years old, less if this is what the report says.
The landlord must provide a copy of the report to any new contract holder within 14 days of the occupation date. Where the check is done when the tenant is already in the property, the landlord must supply a copy within 14 days of the date the inspection was carried out.
For contracts that existed before the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016, there is a transitional period of 12 months in which the landlord has to arrange the electrical safety check. This period ends if the property is re-let during that period. Electrical condition reports commissioned before the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 remain valid if they meet the criteria in the legislation.
There is, however, a statutory requirement that all HMOs (both licensable and not licensable) must have their mains installation inspected every five years.
It may also be appropriate that a more frequent inspection regime will be necessary where any risk is found, for example, where an installation is old or where damage is regularly seen.
Periodic inspection and testing and any necessary remedial work must only be undertaken by someone competent to do such work. Upon completion, the person carrying out the work should issue a report indicating the installation is satisfactory (or why it is not). This should be acted upon and retained by the landlord.
Reports obtained before commencement of Renting Homes
A report obtained before the commencement of the Renting Homes Act is acceptable whilst it remains valid (less than five years or date in the report if less). An electrical installation certificate issued concerning a new build within five years is acceptable:
… an Electrical Installation Certificate covering the whole of a newly built dwelling satisfies the definition of an ‘electrical condition report’ required under Regulation 6 of the FFHH regulations.
Written confirmation of works
Providing a written confirmation of works is a separate duty and should not be confused with the safety inspection report described above.
Whenever any investigatory or remedial work is carried out on the electrical installation at the dwelling (whether that work is about a safety report or not) (we will refer to this as “works”), a written confirmation must be given to the contract-holder as outlined below.
“Written confirmation of work” means, concerning investigatory or remedial work, a copy of the written confirmation from a qualified person that the work in question has been carried out (r.6(8)).
Works before occupation
For a new occupation contract starting on or after the Act starts and existing converted contracts up to 12 months, as described earlier, the following is required:
For all works done after the most recent report and before the occupation date, the landlord must provide written confirmation for each work within 14 days of the occupation date (but in reality, will be attached to the written statement) (r.6(3)(b))
Works during the contract
For all works done after the occupation date, every time some work is done to the electrical installation, a written confirmation must be given to the contract-holder within 14 days from when the landlord receives the confirmation (r.6(5)):
These written confirmations will need to be retained because any work since the most recent safety report will need to be given to any new contract-holder before that new occupation date.
Treated as unfit
A dwelling is to be treated as unfit for human habitation when the landlord has not complied with any of the above rules.
No section 173 notice (the no reason notice) may be given when the dwelling is treated as unfit.
The Welsh Government has produced guidance about the fitness for human habitation rules.
Subscribers get full access to exclusive content, including forms, articles and discounts, plus our time saving Tenancy Builder tool.
Signup for our free weekly digest and get the latest news and guidance straight to your inbox (some content requires a paid subscription).
View Related Handbook Page
The smoke and CO alarm rules are brought in by a new fitness for human habitation requirement. The Renting Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) (Wales) Regulations 2022