After a three month government consultation, private landlords must now provide Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors in their rental properties.
CO poisoning accounts for around 60 deaths every year in England and Wales
Here’s a breakdown of what’s happened, and how your landlords will need to respond to the new legislation.
The legislation change aims to align the requirements for both social and private rented housing:
- Landlords must install a carbon monoxide alarm in any room used as living accommodation where a fixed combustion appliance is used (excluding gas cookers)
- Landlords must now fit carbon monoxide detectors when installing any new fixed combustion appliances of any fuel type (excluding gas cookers)
- Landlords must repair or replace smoke and carbon monoxide alarms once reported as faulty. Regular alarm testing will however remain the tenants’ responsibility.
- Social landlords must also ensure at least one smoke alarm is installed on each storey of the premises on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation. This brings social housing up to the same requirements as privately rented properties where this has been a requirement since 2015.
When does the legislation go live?
According to the government’s consultation, as soon as possible:
“We intend to bring forward legislation to this effect as soon as parliamentary time allows. We will ensure that the new requirements come into force as soon as practicable after the regulations are made.”
“[more than 50%] of respondents supported the proposal to commence regulations as soon as practicable.”
Do Landlords have to pay for Carbon Monoxide Detectors?
Yes. Landlords will need to pay for, and oversee the installation of, CO detectors in their rental properties according to the amended legislation.
Prices range from £20–£200 for different model detectors with different features.
Depending on the size of the rental property, landlords will need to invest in extra detectors; working out how many they need will impact how much your landlords will be willing to pay for each unit.
How can I inform my landlords about this new legislation?
It’s advisable to inform your landlords as soon as possible, especially given that we don’t know when the legislation will go live.
This will give landlords time to install any missing CO detectors in their properties before they’re required to be compliant.
What is a fixed combustion appliance?
A combustion appliance is any apparatus that burns fuel to generate heat. The most common examples are:
- Warm air heaters
- Water heaters
- Fires (and log burners)
- Stoves and other types of cookers
This means landlords will need to install a carbon monoxide detector at the same time as they install any of these appliances in their rental home.
What should I look out for?
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colourless, tasteless gas that is almost imperceptible to humans. This means CO presence can reach dangerous (and even fatal) levels before it is identified.
CO is produced by incomplete burning of carbon based fuels like gas, petrol, wood and coal. CO risks therefore exist in the form of many common household items like:
- Blocked chimneys (and flues)
- Furnaces, fireplaces and boilers
- Motor vehicles
- Grills and generators
- Wood stoves
What are the warning signs of high CO levels?
Just because you can’t see or smell Carbon Monoxide, there are always giveaways if you look hard enough.
Here’s some examples:
- Open flames burn yellow and orange (without any blue)
- Soot on or around appliances
- Yellow-brown staining on or around appliances
- Pilot lights that frequently blow out
- Increased condensation inside windows (especially near appliances)
What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?
Common symptoms CO poisoning include:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Chest pain
- Fatigue (or feelings of weakness)
It is very easy to misdiagnose CO poisoning as the flu or a cold. However, there are some symptoms that you should pay close attention to:
- Chest pain
- Confusion (or feelings of haziness)
Where should CO Detectors go?
Inform your landlords that CO detectors should be installed on every level of their rental property, and outside sleeping areas.
CO Detectors aren’t the same as smoke alarms. Smoke alarms go on ceilings because smoke rises, whereas carbon monoxide mixes with fresh air, so detectors should be closer to head height (but out of the reach of small children).
CO detectors rely upon accurate readings to maintain safety, so there are some limitations on where to put them.
Do put CO detectors here:
- On walls (around 5ft above the floor)
- In every bedroom (and sleeping area)
Don’t put CO detectors here:
- Too close to heating appliances
- Next to windows
- Directly above fireplaces (or other flame-producing appliances)
Read this article about carbon monoxide regulations for more information.
Why is Carbon Monoxide dangerous?
CO is an odorless, colourless, tasteless gas that is almost imperceptible to humans. This means CO presence can reach dangerous (and even fatal) levels before it is identified.
What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?
Carbon Monoxide slowly starves the body of oxygen, resulting in feelings of dizziness, nausea, headaches and confusion.
Because Carbon Monoxide has the potential to affect brain function, it can be a killer—which is why the government consultation aims to push the new legislation live as soon as possible.
Where can I find out more about CO poisoning?
This article from the NHS is a great place to start.