New Smoke Alarm Rules to Apply to All Scottish Properties

Posted by Linda Maclaughlan on 02 July 2018

Soon, every single property in Scotland will need to adhere to new smoke alarm rules – including having a minimum number of smoke alarms fitted – after the amendment of a 30-year-old law.

To avoid another Grenfell Tower tragedy (where 71 people died), changes in legislation to the Housing (Scotland) Act mean that for one thing (don’t worry, there’s more), all homes in Scotland will require a minimum number of smoke alarms to be fitted – and I couldn’t agree more on this.

I’ve personally helped guide holiday let owners through practical health & safety standards that must be covered for all holiday lets and rented properties, and although it may not be fun, it’s absolutely vital to ensure your guests are safe.

Personally, I’m over the moon that not only will the most rigorous standards be applied to new-builds, rented accommodation and holiday lets, but also to all homes across the country. It can’t come soon enough, and means there will be no more grey areas for holiday lets!

Here’s what Housing Minister Kevin Stewart had to say on the matter (via BBC News): “Fires and fatalities from fires are decreasing but even one death is one too many.

“Scotland already has rigorous standards for smoke and fire alarms developed over time, with the highest standard currently applied to new-build and private rented housing.”

The consultation on these changes was brought forward following the nightmare events of Grenfell Tower – which really put a spotlight on how important fire safety really is.

How will the changes affect you?

Well, for starters, everyone in Scotland will soon benefit from an equal level of protection, regardless of whether you own your own home, rent, or are just staying somewhere for the weekend.

So, let’s take a closer look at how these changes will affect you, shall we?

Under the new rules, all homes in Scotland must be:

  • Fitted with at least one smoke alarm in the room most frequently used (usually the living room)
  • Fitted with at least one smoke alarm in spaces like hallways or landings – on every floor
  • Fitted with at least one heat alarm in every kitchen
  • Fitted with a carbon monoxide detector for every appliance – this applies to any fossil fuel (including log burners)

But that’s not all. All alarms will have to be changed a minimum of every 10 years (in other words, a 10-year age limit).

Alarms will also need to be ceiling-mounted, and either mains-connected (with a backup battery) or fitted with a long-life battery according to the Scottish Government – they should also be interlinked with each other (luckily, that last bit can be achieved wirelessly via radio or WiFi if impossible to do via mains).

NOTE: In my opinion, all smoke alarms should be hardwired, as this is currently a legal requirement for long-term lets, and having the option for battery powered alarms in a domestic setting makes little sense to me. So, we’ll see if these rules change closer to the time!

TIP: If you’re unsure of which options are best suited to your home, a qualified, reputable electrician should be able to advise further.

The best part is that from now on, there will no longer be any kind of grey area in regards to the regulations set for holiday lets, as this new legislation should unify standards whilst leaving no doubt in anyone’s minds what the law is.

Advice from a holiday letting agent

Although these rules aren’t set to kick into place yet for residential properties, it’s of the utmost importance that as a holiday let owner, you’re already following these rules.

It always makes me despair when holiday let owners ring me up and ask me if this is the law – or whether they actually have to do it. I think we would all sleep more soundly knowing that our guests are protected.

As I’ve always said, holiday lets are hard work and incur a lot of expense – none more important than the things that will ensure your guests’ safety. If you aren’t prepared to cover this cost, then to be blunt, this isn’t the business for you.

However, the good news is now, with these new laws, there will be even less chance of people getting away with endangering the lives of their guests. Even one life saved makes it all so worthwhile.

I’ve actually written a detailed blog on fire safety that you should read if you’re only just thinking about getting into the holiday letting business (there are plenty of useful tips in there, but I’ll also add some in here).

As I’ve mentioned in the link above, it’s also important to have a wall-mounted fire blanket readily available between the cooker in your property, and the exit point.

A fire extinguisher (at least one) also isn’t a bad idea – you can even get emergency escape ladders if your property has multiple floors and/or a balcony.

Your alarms should be maintained and tested on a weekly basis – keep a log for your own records and for the peace of mind of guests. If you have a cleaner to do this for you, ensure they always remember to keep this record up-to-date.

Finally, ensure all detectors are vacuumed at least every six months, to prevent a build-up of dust from covering the sensors. For more advice, click on the link above!

Conclusion

I hope you’ve found this blog helpful when researching fire safety. I couldn’t be happier that these laws are soon going to be applied across the board to all properties in Scotland – after all, it means a much safer environment for everyone!

What do you think of the new smoke alarm rules? Do you have any questions about fire safety for your holiday let right now? Let me know in the comments – I’ll be happy to help!

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