30 May 2019

Smoke Detectors- new guidance for landlords

Smoke Detectors: New Guidance

By way of reminder, as from 1st March 2019 new guidance in relation to Smoke detectors has been in force. This is interim guidance in that it will only apply up to 1st February 2021 when the requirements in relation to smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors will be removed from the Repairing Standard and incorporated directly into the Tolerable Standard, which will bring social housing in line with properties in the Private Rented Sector.

The Tolerable Standard primarily applies to Social Housing and can be described as a ‘basic “condemnatory” standard’ or in other words, any house that fails to meet the Tolerable Standard is not fit for human habitation. The Tolerable Standard is relevant to the PRS in that, under the current legislation, where a property does not meet the Tolerable Standard, it will not meet the Repairing Standard. Further guidance on this is expected.

The new guidance flows from –

The Housing (s) Act 2006 (Modification of the Repairing Standard) Regs 2019

The changes are quite subtle, in that they alter the requirement for the First-tier Tribunal to consider Building Regulations when looking at whether a smoke detection system meets the repairing standard under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 to any guidance issued by the Scottish Government.

The new guidance can be found by clicking here 

The headline change is that, from 1st March 2019 it will be permissible to have either:

  • Hardwired system; or
  • Battery Powered System.

Requirement is that any alarms meet BS EN 54-29 or BS EN 14604.

That does not mean that older battery systems are now acceptable (what are known as PP3 type or user replaceable battery systems). The guidance states that it must be a “tamper proof/sealed/long-life lithium battery alarm”. In addition, the expiry date of alarms should be visible on each alarm and that, before a tenancy commences, tenants should be advised of smoke and heat alarm expiry dates.


In terms of the rules on how many and where to put alarms, these are largely unchanged in that the requirements are:

  • A smoke alarm in the room frequently used for daytime living purposes (ie sitting room).
  • In each circulation space on each storey (eg landing or hallway).
  • Where there is no landing on an upper story there should be a smoke detector in the “main room” on that storey.
  • A heat alarm in every kitchen
  • All alarms must be interlinked (can be linked by hard wire or wirelessly by radio communication).
  • All smoke and heat alarms need to be ceiling mounted.

The new guidance goes on to say that landlords should ensure that alarms are regularly maintained in line with manufacturer’s instructions and that tenants be advised to test alarms weekly and not to tamper with them.


Where can justify where a lesser level of protection is appropriate. Largely same as previous guidance

  • Where proximity of open fireplace would make a smoke detector impracticable; a heat detector may be fitted.
  • Where the layout of a house means one detector can combine the protection required by individual detectors in different areas then can use 1 detector (eg small flats or open plan layouts).
  • Where the landlord intends to install detectors within a reasonable period of time as part of planned upgrades to a property.

Landlords are entitled to rely on professional advice from qualified electricians (this means SELECT, NAPIT or NICEIC members) on compliance with the required standards. If you do and that advice departs from requirements outlined in guidance and above, then it would be advisable to keep written records of that advice.

If you require any further information or advice, please contact Rory Cowan