New rules to be introduced in the private rented sector

New rules to be introduced in the private rented sector

Northern Ireland is set to introduce mandatory smoke, heat, and carbon monoxide alarms in private rented sector properties, a change that has been widely supported by Propertymark. The new regulations, under the Smoke, Heat and Carbon Monoxide Alarms for Private Tenancies Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2024, aim to enhance tenant safety and bring significant improvements to the rental sector.

Three key changes will be implemented in rented properties:

  1. Smoke Alarms: A smoke alarm must be installed in the main living room and in every circulation space on each storey (hallways, landing areas).

  2. Heat Alarms: A heat alarm must be installed in every kitchen.

  3. Carbon Monoxide Alarms: A carbon monoxide alarm must be installed in any room or circulation space containing a fixed combustion appliance or a flue, including any bedrooms a flue passes through.

Letting agents should note that smoke and heat alarms must be interlinked to ensure they can communicate with each other. While carbon monoxide alarms do not need to be linked to smoke and heat alarms, multiple carbon monoxide alarms must be interlinked.

These changes are part of Section 8 of the Private Tenancies Act (Northern Ireland) 2022, which for the first time in Northern Ireland, imposes compulsory duties on both tenants and landlords in the private rented sector regarding these alarms.

The deadlines for compliance are:

  • New Tenancies: Must be compliant from 1 September 2024.
  • Existing Tenancies: Must be compliant from 1 December 2024.

Propertymark first raised the need for mandatory smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in January 2017, responding to the Department for Communities' proposals for significant changes in Northern Ireland's rental sector. Since then, Propertymark has actively lobbied for the introduction of the Private Tenancies Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 and the development of these crucial safety proposals.

Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns at Propertymark, expressed support for these changes: “Propertymark welcomes the introduction of mandatory smoke, heat and carbon monoxide alarms in private rented property in Northern Ireland. These measures will improve the safety of tenants and help professionalise the sector. We have long called for these reforms, and it is pleasing to see a lead-in time for letting agents and their landlords to comply. We encourage agents to understand the changes and get ahead by installing and checking alarms before the new regulations come fully into force later in the year.”

The introduction of these mandatory alarms marks a significant step forward in improving the safety and professionalism of the private rented sector in Northern Ireland. As the deadlines approach, landlords and letting agents are encouraged to ensure their properties meet the new requirements, enhancing the protection and well-being of tenants across the region.

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