Landlords across Staffordshire will need to ensure their properties are fitted with smoke alarms after new laws come into force on Thursday (October 1).
The new laws also extend to fitting carbon monoxide alarms in properties burning solid fuels.
Landlords must also check the alarms are working at the start of every new tenancy with penalties of up to £5,000 if they do not comply.
Emma Amat, a partner and property specialist at Bowcock & Pursaill, solicitors, has said after landlords test their alarms on the first day of the tenancy, tenants should take responsibility for their own safety and test all alarms regularly to make sure they are in working order.
She said: “Testing monthly is generally considered an appropriate frequency for smoke alarms, and if tenants find their alarms are not working they should talk to their landlord about a replacement.
“Landlords would also be wise to include a clause in their new tenancy agreements which obliges the tenant to test their smoke alarm on a monthly basis throughout the tenancy.
“There will be no grace period after this date to install the required alarms, so if you do not have the required alarms in the house by October 1st you should make arrangements with your tenant to allow you access to install the alarms by this date.”
If the landlord does not comply the local authority can issue a remedial notice, which gives the landlord 28 days to become compliant or they could be fined up to £5,000.
Emma adds: “If your tenant won’t allow you access to install the alarms then you need to write to them to explain that it is a legal requirement for their safety and give them seven days to respond.
“After this then you should request a solicitor’s letter to be sent to the tenant, so that if you are still unable to gain access and the local authority contacts you then you have written evidence to demonstrate you have taken all reasonable steps other than legal proceedings to become compliant.”
More details about the new regulations can be found on the Government website, or landlords can contact Emma for further advice by calling 01538 370832 or via www.bowcockpursaill.co.uk
Bowcock & Pursaill Solicitors have offices across Staffordshire in Leek, Uttoxeter, Eccleshall and Hanley. For more information about the full range of legal services Bowcock & Pursaill offer log on to www.bowcockpursaill.co.uk