August 2021 – Homeowner Smoke Alarms – The New Rules

Author: Mitchells Roberton
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  • Local authorities have a duty to make sure that houses in their area which do not meet the “tolerable standard” are brought up to the “tolerable standard” or, in some cases, closed or demolished.
  • The “tolerable standard” is set out in section 85 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 which says that a house meets the “tolerable standard” if it is structurally stable; substantially free from damp; has satisfactory thermal insulation; an adequate piped supply of wholesome water; a sink provided with a satisfactory supply of both hot and cold water within the house and so on and so on. The list is quite a long one.
  • Of course, most houses do meet the “tolerable standard” and in any event local authorities do not have bands of inspectors who have a rolling programme for inspecting houses in their area to check that they do meet the standard. But if a failure to meet the standard is brought to the authority’s attention then they may investigate and take enforcement action.
  • This list of things was recently added to by the snappily titled Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 (Tolerable Standard)(Extension of Criteria) Amendment Order 2021 which provides that in order for a house to meet the “tolerable standard” it must have:
    • satisfactory equipment installed for detecting, and for giving warning of, fire or suspected fire; and
    • satisfactory equipment installed for detecting, and for giving warning of, carbon monoxide present in a concentration that is hazardous to health.
  • These requirements were to have had effect from 1 February this year but have now been delayed until 1 February 2022. The relative Scottish Government Policy Note puts it as follows:

“The policy intention is to have a common new minimum standard for fire and smoke detectors across all housing, regardless of whether the house is owner-occupied or rented in the social or private sector … The Scottish Government considers that, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, some home owners will have difficulty organising work, or are concerned about having people coming into their homes…. the commencement date [for the provisions is now to be deferred until] 1 February 2022.”

  • This month the Scottish Government issued updated guidance as to what is required.
  • Every home in Scotland must have interlinked fire alarms by 1 February 2022. Being interlinked means if one alarm goes off, they all go off.
  • If you are a homeowner, it’s your responsibility to make sure your home meets the new fire alarms standard.
  • By 1 February 2022 every home will need to have: one smoke alarm in the room you spend most of the day, usually your living room; one smoke alarm in every circulation space on each storey, such as hallways and landings; and one heat alarm in the kitchen.
  • All smoke and heat alarms should be mounted on the ceiling and be interlinked.
  • If you have a carbon-fuelled appliance, like a boiler, fire, heater or flue you must also have a carbon monoxide detector. This does not need to be linked to the fire alarms.
  • There are two types of interlinked fire alarms that meet the new rules:
    • sealed battery alarms – which should be tamper-proof long-life batteries. You can fit these alarms yourself; and
    • mains-wired alarms – these are cheaper than tamper proof long-life battery alarms, but should be installed by a qualified electrician. These should be replaced every 10 years.
  • Both types of alarm are interlinked by radio frequency without the need for WiFi.
  • If the carbon monoxide alarm is battery operated, it must have a sealed battery for the duration of its lifespan, which may be up to 10 years.
  • The cost for an interlinked system with sealed long-life battery alarms in a two storey house is said to be around £220, if you fit the alarms yourself. There will be an extra cost if you get a tradesperson to fit them for you.
  • You should check that each alarm complies with the following standards: smoke alarms – BS EN14604:2005; heat alarms: BS 5446-2:2003; and carbon monoxide detectors: British Kitemark EN 50291-1.

Note: This material is for information purposes only and does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by us. You should not rely upon it in making any decisions or taking or refraining from taking any action. If you would like us to advise you on any of the matters covered in this material, please contact Euan David: email

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