Changes to Fire Safety and Smoke Alarm Regulations from February 2021: What You Need to Know

From February 2021, all homes in Scotland will be subject to a new set of standards for Fire safety and smoke alarms. This has the intention of ensuring that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) has the resources to its job effectively, and will ensure that residential properties in Scotland will have the required fire detection equipment to do this.

In their annual statistical analysis to the 31st December of last year, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service reported that they attended 26,726 incidents involving fires, which was an increase of 2.1% on the previous year.

With 45 fatal fire casualties (an increase of 2.27% on the previous year), and 80% of these fatalities related to domestic properties, it highlights the importance of fire safety in the home and the benefits that being prepared, with earlier detection has.

Who is required to follow these new guidelines?

These changes are universal and apply to owner-occupiers and tenanted properties alike.

The following conditions must be met in your property by that time, regardless of whether it is owned or rented:

  • There must be a smoke alarm installed in the room that you (or tenant if you are a landlord) use most for daytime living (e.g. a living room).
  • There must be a heat alarm installed in every kitchen.
  • There must be at least one smoke alarm placed in a circulation space (e.g. your hallway or landing) for every storey of the building.
  • All smoke alarms in the property must be interlinked and ceiling mounted.
  • There must be a carbon monoxide detector installed if there is a carbon fuelled appliance in the property (e.g. fires, boilers, and heaters).

If you are a property owner (e.g. the owner occupier or the landlord) you are responsible for ensuring that these standards are met. This includes paying the costs of purchasing and installing any new equipment.

Other Negative Implications

If a property fails to meet the above conditions, it can severely impact upon the home report if you wish to sell it. In addition, the local authority can use statutory powers to intervene and order that you carry out work to raise the property to the correct standard.

Current regulations will remain in place until February 2021, but it would be wise for you to make the necessary changes in preparation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I am a tenant?
The responsibility for making the changes rests with your landlord because they are the property owner.

If you are a tenant renting from the private sector, your landlord should already be complying with the regulations. This is because the new regulations are already in place for private tenancies. If your landlord has not met them and refuses to do so, you can bring the issue to the attention of the Housing Tribunal.

If you are a social tenant (housing association or local authority), your landlord should have been informed of the changes and made plans to implement them by February 2021. If outside circumstances like the COVID 19 pandemic have severely impacted their plans, landlords must have a remedial plan for the property to be line with regulations by May 2021. Your landlord will be monitored and held to account by the Scottish Housing Regulator.

Do all alarms in different properties in a block of flats have to be linked?
There will be no obligation to link alarms between different properties in a block of flats or a tenement. You will not have to put fire alarms in communal areas.

Must the alarms be linked in my rented property if it has housing association shared ownership?
You will be responsible for ensuring the property is in line with the regulations unless it is stated in the occupancy agreement that the housing association has responsibility for managing such matters.

Is there a specific type of alarm that should be bought?
The Scottish Government advises that either mains-wired or tamper-proof long-life lithium battery alarms be used. If you choose mains-wired alarms, a qualified electrician will be needed to install them. You should check that systems meet the requirements before purchasing them.

Is there financial support to help me buy the equipment needed to meet these regulations?
If you are the property owner, you will be expected to pay for any new equipment in most circumstances. However, your local council may offer discretionary funding to assist with the cost if you are finding it difficult to do this.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service provide a Home Fire Safety Checker, which you can use to check the measures you have in place in your home. This is available HERE.