As from 1st October 2015, the regulations now state that a working smoke alarm must fitted on every floor of a property that is used for living accommodation. This includes bathrooms and toilets. CO detectors/alarms must be placed in every room where solid fuel is burnt.
The regulations do not include, gas, oil or LPG although they do mention that as a safety recommendation landlords may wish to place alarms in rooms with these appliances also.
All alarms must be tested on the first day of the tenancy, a record of the location and date/time of testing must be made and the tenant should sign to agree this information.
During the tenancy it is the tenant’s responsibility to test all alarms and replace batteries when required. If an alarm fails for reasons other than the battery it becomes a landlord’s maintenance issue as usual. When notified of a problem landlord’s have 28 days to rectify this.
How It Affects Inventory Clerks
You may be required to test alarms on day of check in, if this is what your client requires. This test involves nothing more than pressing the test button on the alarm until a sound is emitted. If no sound is emitted then you should note this on your report and inform your instructing principle as soon as you can. (In much the same way as we record the presence or absence of fire safety labels and overlong blind cords with no safety cleat or breaker).
You must make sure you have checked with your own insurance company that you are covered for this type of test. The question to ask is:
‘am I covered for pressing the button on these alarms and stating that a sound/beep is emitted. I am testing for power only and my disclaimer will state……'
It would also be sensible to email your disclaimer to your client stating your limitations concerning power testing and asking for their written acceptance of this.
We have had a lot of queries about exactly what to use when testing. The answer is simple, do some research and see what works for you. The most basic way some clerks test is just to use a short length of garden cane, but most clerks will use a telescopic tool of some kind – check out meeting pointer sticks, fisherman’s bank sticks, even folding walking sticks! Whatever works for you and is easy to carry. It needs to be light, portable and fit for purpose!
Suggested AIIC Disclaimer
The AIIC has kindly provided us with the following disclaimer which can be used on your inventory reports:
‘In accordance with the regulations dated October 2015 smoke alarms and CO detectors are to be tested by the landlord on the first day of the tenancy. If smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are to be tested at time of check in by the Inventory Clerk this test will be for POWER ONLY. The test button will be pressed until a sound is emitted. This information will be recorded on the inventory document which will be signed by the tenant if present. This test does not certify that the alarm is in full or proper working order and that it will be working during the tenancy should any problem occur. The inventory clerk will not be held liable for any damage or malfunction occurring during the testing process. The client will be informed of any alarms tested that appear to be without power. ‘
If we are not asked to carry out a check in it will then fall to the agent or landlord to test these alarms since we will not be present on the tenancy start date. Whilst we can record that alarms have been tested for power at time of inventory compilation this does not comply with the new regulations.