Scotland is changing its smoke alarm laws - what it means for homeowners

Wednesday, 14th October 2020, 4:54 pm

New rules for fire and smoke alarms in homes across Scotland are to be introduced next year, it has been announced.

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The change in legislation comes following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in London in 2017, and aims to ensure everyone in Scotland has the same level of protection whether they own or rent their home.

Here’s everything you need to know about the new law - and the changes you may need to make at home as a result.

How and when are the rules changing?

From February 2021, new standards for fire and smoke alarms in all homes in Scotland will come into force.

From this date, every home must have:

  • a smoke alarm in the living room and in circulation spaces such as hallways and landings
  • a heat alarm in every kitchen
  • all alarms ceiling mounted and interlinked
  • a carbon monoxide alarm where there are fixed combustion appliances, such as boilers and wood burners

The new rules mean the standard which currently applies to private rented property and new builds is being extended to all homes in Scotland.

It will be the responsibility of the homeowner to ensure the new safety standards are met.

How many alarms will I need?

The standard requires one smoke alarm to be installed in the room most frequently used for general daytime living purposes, one alarm in every circulation space on each storey (such as hallways and landings) and one heat alarm installed in every kitchen.

All alarms should be ceiling mounted and interlinked, and where there is a carbon-fuelled appliance, such as boilers and fires, a carbon monoxide detector must also be fitted. However this does not need to be linked to the fire alarms.

What if I already have smoke alarms?

If you already have smoke alarms in your home, but they are not interlinked, you will need to change them to meet the new requirements.

Do I have to pay for the alarms and how much will it cost?

It is the responsibility of homeowners or landlords to fund the costs of the alarms.

Prices will vary depending on the devices you choose to install, but it is estimated that to fit the required alarms in an average three bedroom house - requiring three smoke alarms, one heat alarm and one carbon monoxide detector - will cost around £220. This is based on using the type of alarms you can install yourself.

What type of alarms should I get?

You can install tamper-proof long life lithium battery alarms or mains-wired alarms, with the latter generally being the cheapest.

However, mains-wired alarms will need to be installed by an electrician so there is an additional cost to consider, and you may need a building warrant if you live in a flat.

Alarms that meet the new standard (both tamper-proof long life lithium battery alarms and mains-wired alarms), are widely available to buy in general hardware stores and online.

How long do I have to comply?

The new regulations come into force in February 2021, meaning homeowners and landlords have until then to comply.

However, installing alarms at the earliest opportunity, will provide improved fire safety in your home.

How will compliance be checked?

Compliance with the new rules will form part of any Home Report when you come to sell your property.

As this will be a minimum standard for safe houses, local authorities will be able to use their statutory powers to require owners to carry out work on substandard housing.

A version of this article originally appeared on our sister site, The Scotsman.