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If you are a homeowner, it is important to be aware of the new legal requirements being introduced in February 2021.

Following the tragic Grenfell Tower fire, a working group was established to review Scotland’s building and fire safety regulations, and new legal requirements have been published by the Scottish Government in relation to fire and smoke alarms. This new legal requirement has been introduced to ensure everyone in Scotland has the same level of protection whether they own or rent their home.

The New Regulations

The regulations extend the standards that already apply to private sector landlords whereby from February 2021, all homes will require the following:

  1. A smoke alarm installed in the room most frequently used for general daytime living purposes;
  2. A smoke alarm in every circulation space on each storey (such as hallways and landings);
  3. A heat alarm installed in every kitchen.

Each alarm must be mounted to the ceiling and interlinked and must be either mains wired or tamperproof long-life lithium battery alarms. If you already have smoke alarms in your house but they are not interlinked, then you will need to change them so that they are. The reason for this is because you may not be able to hear the alarm closest to the fire however if the system is interlinked then you will know immediately that there is a fire in the property.

Further, if there is a carbon-fuelled appliance (for example, boilers, fires, heaters) or a flue then a carbon monoxide detector is also required.

The Cost

The cost of installing these alarms will be the responsibility of the homeowner or landlord. The cost of the alarms will vary according to what you currently have in place and the alarms you choose to install. On average, it is estimated that the cost for an average three-bedroom house which requires three smoke alarms, one heat alarm and one carbon monoxide detector will be approximately £220. However, this is based on using an alarm that can be installed by yourself and does not include charges that may apply if you were to appoint an electrician to carry out the work of installing a hard-wired system.

The Deadline

Homeowners and Landlord have until February 2021 to comply with the regulations however installing alarms at the earliest opportunity, will provide improved fire safety in your home. Most homeowners want to make their homes as safe as possible and compliance will also form part of any Home Report if you come to sell your property. As this will be a minimum standard for safe houses, your Local Authority will also be able to use their statutory powers to require owners to carry out work on substandard housing.

Insurance

If you do not install the necessary alarms, then this could affect your home insurance, so it is important that you check your household insurance policy. Your individual insurance provider can decide whether they include the new requirements into their policies, so it does depend on your insurance provider. It is likely, going forward, that insurers may decide to include this as part of their criteria as they would expect the property to be fitted with working smoke alarms and that homeowners ensure their property meets any applicable standard. If you are unclear as to whether this will impact your insurance policy, then we advise you to contact your provider and check.

Tenants

Landlords that deal with local authority housing or housing associations (“Social Landlords”) are aware of the new standard and have been working to ensure that the new alarms are in place, where needed, by 1st February 2021. However, some of their plans may have been affected by the restrictions on going into homes to carry out the work during the coronavirus pandemic. On this basis, Social Landlords need to try and install the alarms prior to February 2021 but if this is not possible then there is a further deadline of May 2021 at the latest.

If you are a tenant of privately rented property, then your Landlord should already be complying with these obligations as it is an extension of the existing regulations.

Selling your Property

If you are planning to sell your property, then the surveyor will check to make sure that these regulations have been complied with and it will be raised in the Home Report.

Additional Information

If your property forms part of a tenement or block of flats, then there is no requirement for different properties to be linked to each other nor is there a requirement for alarms to be fitted in the communal areas such as entry halls and stairways.

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