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Is it Illegal to Not Have Interlinked Smoke Alarms?

Is it Illegal to Not Have Interlinked Smoke Alarms?

Renting out a property means staying in touch with what seems like an ever-changing array of new rules and regulations. Some of those sometimes feel as though they’ve just been designed to make life more troublesome for landlords, but many are extremely valuable as they help ensure that the safety of tenants is always being protected.

We’ve recently discussed some of the new fire safety legislation affecting high-rise residential buildings that have come into force as a result of the inquiry into the Grenfell Fire. However, you may have heard about other new fire safety legislation in the form of interlinked fire alarms.

This article will look at this subject to determine what interlinked smoke alarms are, and whether landlords and those managing HMOs and other multi-occupancy residential buildings now need to get them installed in their rental properties.
Is it illegal to not have interlinked smoke alarms

What are interlinked smoke alarms?

In most properties where there is more than one fire alarm installed, they operate independently. In other words, when an individual alarm detects signs of a fire, it – and it alone – sounds its alarm. Where you have interlinked fire alarms, on the other hand, when one alarm is triggered, all other alarms in the same property also sound.

Interlinked fire alarms can either be hardwired in or battery operated, the latter type using radio waves to transmit information between each other. That makes them easier to install, maintain, update and eventually replace should they develop a terminal fault.

What are the benefits of interlinked fire alarms?

Interlinked fire alarms ensure everyone in a property hears a fire alarm when it’s triggered in a building, regardless of which room or floor they are on at the time. That could considerably reduce the potential for people to get trapped on the upper floors because they haven’t had the time to react as quickly to the alarm as they might have. 

How do they do that?

Let’s take the example of a smoke or fire alarm detecting signs of a fire in your kitchen, which is situated at the back of your property and on the ground floor. If you’re in a bedroom one or two storeys above and at the front of the property, will you necessarily hear the alarm, especially if you’re a very sound sleeper? With an interlinked system, the alarm on your floor will also instantly be triggered, so that you have the chance to make an immediate escape. 

Are interlinked smoke alarms a legal requirement?

As things stand, it is only a legal requirement to have interlinked fire alarms in Scotland – and in fact, this doesn’t just apply to the rental sector, it applies to all homes. This law came into force in February 2022. Current legislation in England is that every floor in a rental property that has ‘living accommodation’ needs its own smoke alarm, but these do not yet need to be interlinked.

However, even if they are not yet a legal requirement in rental properties in England, it’s well worth considering whether they might be a good idea for your building, especially if you’re managing a large HMO with numerous tenants living on different floors.

If you’re a landlord or manager of an HMO or any other kind of rental property, Scutum South East is a leading provider of fire alarms, fire extinguishers, fire risk assessments and other fire safety essentials you need to stay compliant and keep your tenants safe.

Find out more by getting in touch with our team of professional advisers today.

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About Scutum South East

Scutum South East is a leading expert in fire safety and security solutions for businesses and organisations located across South East England, including London and Surrey.

From fire alarms, fire extinguishers and fire risk assessments to access control, CCTV and intruder alarm systems – and a lot more besides – we offer a comprehensive range of products and services designed to keep you, your business and your staff and visitors safe.

With decades of industry experience to call on, we’re proud to hold accreditations from leading trade associations and bodies such as British Approvals for Fire Equipment (BAFE), the British Fire Consortium, the Fire Industry Association (FIA) and Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB).

If you’d like to find out more about Scutum South East, get in touch with our friendly team or explore our products and services on our site.