THE SMOKE ALARM LAWS IN SCOTLAND HAVE CHANGED - ARE YOU CONFUSED?

Watson Alarms - the smoke alarm laws in Scotland have changed

It’s nearly three months since the new smoke, heat and carbon monoxide alarm regulations came into force in Scotland. Is your home compliant? And if not what do you need to know?

Smoke alarm, heat alarm and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm laws changed in Scotland at the start of February 2022. Three months on from the change, we outline the key things you need to know about smoke, heat and CO alarms if you live in Scotland.   

All homes in Scotland, whether rented or privately-owned, now need to have interlinked smoke alarms installed and an interlinked heat alarm fitted in the kitchen. When one interlinked alarm detects danger, they should all sound. The new law applies to both new-builds and older properties. Homes with a fuel-burning appliance also now need to have a carbon monoxide alarm installed, though this doesn’t need to be linked to the smoke and heat alarms. If you live in Scotland and haven’t upgraded your alarms yet, read on to find out what you need to do.

The Scottish government now requires all homes to be better protected from fire. Here are the key changes and everything else we know so far about the new alarm laws and how they will be policed. Interlinked smoke alarms need to be fitted in the most used-room in a property. In most homes this will be the living room or a lounge diner. You’ll also need interlinked alarms in hallways and landings. An interlinked heat alarm – which detects rapid rises in temperature – should be installed in the kitchen.

Interlinked smoke and heat alarms need to be mains-wired or come with sealed batteries. Smoke and heat alarms with replaceable batteries don’t meet the requirements of the new regulations. Every smoke and heat alarm will need to be fitted to the ceiling and should connect with other alarms through radio. They shouldn’t need WiFi to be able to connect. It’s OK to continue to have standalone (unlinked) alarms in homes in Scotland as long as there is an interlinked system of smoke alarms and a heat alarm fitted, too.

All homes with a fuel burning appliance, such as a boiler, a wood burner or a fire will also need to install a CO alarm, but this doesn’t need to be linked to other alarms in the home. It’s the property owner’s responsibility to make sure that the alarms meet the new standard.

What happens if homes in Scotland don’t have interlinked alarms fitted? The Scottish government tells us that homeowners will have a reasonable time to fit new alarms, and local authorities have a duty to ensure homes meet the new standard. It doesn’t expect interventions to go beyond advising homeowners about the changes. With each local authority determining its own approach, it’s unclear how this will be policed or what the penalty will be for not having the right alarms fitted.

A government fund has been set up through Care and Repair Scotland to help elderly and disabled people meet the cost of installation. Initially the fund was set at £500,000, but a further £500,000 of funding was announced in January 2022, doubling the total pot to £1 million. This followed a report in December 2021 that criticised the limited nature of the fund and stated that half of the original fund had been used to help just 800 people.

A government fund has been set up through Care and Repair Scotland to help elderly and disabled people meet the cost of installation. Initially the fund was set at £500,000, but a further £500,000 of funding was announced in January 2022, doubling the total pot to £1 million. This followed a report in December 2021 that criticised the limited nature of the fund and stated that half of the original fund had been used to help just 800 people.

If you have a claim declined and you feel you’ve been caught out by this recent law change, it would be worth taking your case to the Financial Ombudsman Service to determine whether you’ve been treated in a fair and reasonable way.

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