Housing enforcement guidance
Appendix 2 - statement of principles for determining financial penalties
The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015
These regulations place a duty on landlords (which includes freeholders or leaseholders who have created a tenancy, lease, licence, sub lease or sub licence) to ensure that:
- there is a smoke alarm on every storey of their property
- there is a carbon monoxide alarm in any room used as a living room which contains a solid fuel-burning combustion appliance
- to ensure that alarms are in proper working order at the start of a new tenancy
Where we believe that a landlord is in breach of one or more of the above duties, we must serve a remedial notice on the landlord, under section 5 of these regulations.
If the landlord then fails to take the remedial action specified in the notice within the specified timescale, we can require the landlord to pay a penalty charge. This power to charge is set out in section 8 of the regulations.
We will impose a penalty charge where it is satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that the landlord has not complied with the action specified in the remedial notice in the specified timescale.
The purpose of imposing a financial penalty
The purpose of the financial penalties on landlords is to:
- recognise the importance of compliance with the legislation to protect the safety of tenants and their visitors
- penalise the landlord for not installing alarms after being required to do so, under notice
- be proportionate to potential harm outcomes, the nature of the breach and the cost benefit to comply with these regulation
- change the behaviour of the landlord and prevent future non-compliance
- eliminate financial gain or benefit from non-compliance with the regulations
- reimburse the costs incurred by us in arranging remedial action in default of the landlord
Criteria for imposing the financial penalty
Where a breach of a notice is suspected, we will look at the available evidence prior to considering imposing a financial penalty. This could be obtained from a property inspection, or information from the tenant or agent. The landlord could demonstrate compliance by supplying dated photographs of alarms, together with installation records or confirmation by the tenant that a system is in proper working order.
Landlords also need to take steps to demonstrate they have met the requirements relating to testing alarms at the start of a tenancy. This can be achieved by tenants signing an inventory form and confirming the alarms were tested and were in proper working order at the start of the tenancy. Tenancy agreements can also specify the frequency that a tenant should test the alarm to ensure it is in proper working order.
In deciding whether it would be appropriate to impose a penalty, we will take full account of the particular facts and circumstances of the breach under consideration and whether the landlord has taken all reasonable steps to comply.
A financial penalty charge will be considered appropriate if we are satisfied, on the balance of probabilities that the landlord who had been served with a remedial notice under section 5 of the regulations had failed to take the remedial action specified in the notice within the time period specified.
Criteria for determining the amount of a financial penalty
The regulations state the financial penalty must not exceed £5,000.
The penalty charge comprises two parts, a punitive element for failure to comply with the remedial notice and a cost element for investigative costs, officer time, administration and any remedial works.
The penalty charge is payable within 29 days beginning with the day on which the penalty charge notice is served. We will not be using its discretion to offer early payment reductions due to the serious implications to tenant safety of non-compliance.
The charges are:
- £2,500 for the first breach of complying with a remedial notice
- £5,000 for each subsequent breach to comply with a remedial notice
Procedural matters for penalty charge notices
When we are satisfied that the landlord has failed to comply with the remedial notice, a penalty change notice must be served within 6 weeks.
Where a landlord requests a review within 29 days of the penalty charge notice being served, we will consider all representations made as part of that review. Representations should be sent to the address at the bottom of this appendix. We will serve a notice of its decision which will either be to confirm, vary or withdraw the penalty notice.
If the outcome of this review is to confirm or vary the penalty charge notice the landlord may appeal the decision to the First-Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber). Appeals should be made within 28 days of our decision to confirm or vary the penalty charge notice.
If the penalty charge notice is not paid, court proceedings for recovery of the penalty charge will be commenced after 30 days from the date when the penalty charge notice was served.
If a review of the penalty charge notice has been requested or if a tribunal appeal has been submitted recovery proceedings will not be undertaken until the review or appeal has been determined.
Remedial action taken in default of the landlord
Where we are satisfied that a landlord has not complied with the requirements of a remedial notice in the specified timescale and consent is given by the occupier, we will arrange for remedial works to be undertaken within 28 days of being satisfied of the breach.
Battery-operated smoke alarms will be installed at every storey of residential accommodation. If the property is a house in multiple occupation and further fire safety precautions are necessary this will be considered a temporary solution and further precautions will be required through Housing Act 2004 enforcement.
Where a carbon monoxide alarm is required, one will be installed in every room containing a solid fuel combusting appliance.
Representations made against remedial notices and penalty charge notices should be sent to us by email or post:
- Post to: Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Castle House, Barracks Road, Newcastle-under-Lyme, ST5 1BL
For further information email or phone us:
- Phone: 01782 717717