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By virtue of The Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 (Tolerable Standard) (Extension of Criteria) Amendment Order 2021, all homes in Scotland are now required by law to have at least two interlinked smoke alarms, a heat alarm and potentially a carbon monoxide detector. While there was a public awareness campaign carried out by the government ahead of the regulation coming into force on 1 February 2022, the buzz around the new rules has died down and many are still unaware of what exactly it is they need to install in their property to make it compliant.

What is required?

Every home in Scotland will need to have:

  • 1 smoke alarm in the room used most, usually the living or sitting room;
  • 1 smoke alarm in each ‘circulation space’ on each storey, such as a downstairs hallway and an upstairs landing;
  • 1 heat alarm in the property’s kitchen.
  • Furthermore, if the property is served by a carbon-fuelled appliance, such as a gas boiler or fire, a carbon monoxide alarm must also be placed within the property. This does not have to be interlinked with the rest of the alarms.

All of these devices, except the carbon monoxide alarm, must be mounted on the ceilings within the property and, importantly, interlinked. The alarms may be interlinked via radio frequency and there is therefore no requirement for a Wi-Fi connection, or for the alarms to be hard wired.

So, for example, if you own a 2 bedroom bungalow with central heating, you would need a heat alarm in the kitchen, a smoke alarm in the hall, a smoke alarm in the living room/room where you spend the most time and a carbon monoxide alarm close to your boiler. If you live in a 4 bedroom, 3 storey townhouse, you will need two additional smoke alarms, in the hall/landing of each additional storey.

There are two main types of smoke/heat alarms which may be fitted, both suitable to meet the requirements of the legislation:

  • The first is a sealed battery alarm which may, allowing for current supply chain issues, be purchased in certain big name DIY stores and installed by the home owner themselves with little difficulty. Regional suppliers have also popped up in recent months and they may have more product in stock than the larger stores. The Scottish Government has advised the cost of a full system for a two storey house is around £220, although this may have changed owing to supply.
  • The second type of alarm system is the mains wired alarm system which, while technically cheaper per unit, will require to be installed by an electrician, likely leading to further costs.
  • Both systems will have an estimated lifespan of ten years.

When do I need to do this by?

The government’s wording around the legislation states that a “reasonable period” will be allowed for people to source and install the required systems. No further guidance has been provided as to what is meant by a “reasonable period”.

Implications for non-compliance

Not only could installing these new alarms potentially save your life and property, it will become relevant when you come to sell your property. Non-compliance with the new regulation may be noted in your Home Report, (the report produced for your property by a surveyor).

Questions have also arisen over the home insurance implications of non-compliance. It seems logical that insurance policies may be invalidated if it is found that a home does not have the required alarm system installed. Earlier this year, some of the major insurance providers all confirmed that they would not invalidate policies for non-compliance at this stage, however the situation could well change. On a similar note, non-compliance may become an issue for lenders and mortgage providers.

Should you have any further questions or require guidance, please feel free to contact Lewis Needle at Lewis.Needle@Stronachs.com

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