The new Renting Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) (Wales) Regulations 2022 come into effect in July 2022 and stipulate that rented accommodation in Wales must be fitted with mains-powered and interlinked fire alarms with at least one smoke alarm installed on each storey of the dwelling. In addition, carbon monoxide detectors are required in each room of the dwelling that contains a carbon-fuelled appliance or flue. All products in this section have been selected to comply with the new regulations.
Power supply: All fire alarms must be powered either from the mains electricity circuit or a dedicated mains circuit from the consumer unit.
Interlink: Smoke and heat alarms must either be interlinked by cable or by wireless radio-frequency interlink. Carbon monoxide alarms do not have to interlink with the smoke and heat alarms.
Updating the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 (The Act) and coming into effect on 15th July 2022, the new regulations for landlords of rented dwellings cover a wide variety of topics relating to "fitness for human habitation" (FFHH). These include new requirements for smoke, heat, and carbon monoxide alarms to be installed and maintained by the landlord. A general summary of the new requirements are:
For smoke and heat alarms, it can be compared to compliance with Grades D1 or D2 from BS 5839-6: 2019. Government guidance for the new regulations also stipulates that they should be installed in accordance with that same British Standard. See our full guide to BS 5839 Part 6 for more details.
It is the landlord's responsibility to ensure suitable alarms are correctly installed and working, not just at the start of each tenancy period but opportunities should be sought for ongoing testing and maintenance during the tenancy as well. The guidance page on gov.wales outlines the requirements for landlords to ensure a dwelling is fit for human habitation, including details on fire alarms and carbon monoxide detection.
To meet the requirements of the new Welsh regulations applying to rented accommodation, smoke & heat alarms must be mains-powered with backup batteries and they must interlink with each other – Grade D1 or Grade D2 under the British Standard BS 5839-6: 2019. Grade D1 alarms are preferred as their backup battery is sealed, tamper-proof, and designed to last for the full lifespan of the alarm without needing to be replaced, ensuring full protection at all times.
Renting Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) (Wales) Regulations 2022 allows carbon monoxide alarms with any power source to be used, including standard alkaline battery-powered alarms up to mains-powered alarms with sealed lithium backup and interlinked to your fire alarms.
Any mains-powered alarms, regardless of sensor type, must be permanently wired into a mains circuit. Alarms which use a mains plug are not suitable for the updated regulations.
Applying to all aspects of the property, including mains-powered smoke, heat, and CO alarms, the new regulations also require landlords ensure that all wiring and fixed electrical equipment are tested regularly – usually every 5 years unless a previous Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) stipulates more frequent inspections.
The "periodic inspection and testing" (PIT) of rented properties must be carried out only by a qualified person who is competent to work in accordance with the UK standard for the safety of electrical installations, BS 7671 Requirements for Electrical Installations (IET Wiring Regulations). The PIT will reveal if any circuits or equipment are overloaded, find any electric shock risks or fire hazards, identify faulty equipment or wiring, and note any lack of earthing or bonding.
These checks not only ensure that the fire detection and alarm system is working correctly, but help to reduce the risks of an electrical issue starting a fire in the first place.
British Standard BS 5839-6: 2019, the code of practice for fire detection and fire alarm systems in domestic premises, covers everything from system planning and design through to ongoing maintenance of an installed system. It contains guidance on the types of alarm available (known as Grades) and where they should be installed (called Categories).
Table 1 in the Standard outlines the minimum alarm systems for a wide range of example properties. The vast majority of rented dwellings require mains-powered interlinking smoke and heat alarms with sealed lifetime backup batteries – Grade D1 – installed in all circulation spaces such as hallways that form part of the escape routes from the premises and in all rooms or areas that present a high risk of fire to occupants – Category LD2.
The Grade system ranges from F1 & F2 (battery-powered) up to Grade A (comparable to commercial fire alarm systems) depending mostly on the power source and interlinking capabilities of the alarms – split Grades denote user-replaceable batteries as a 2 (e.g. F2) and sealed, tamper-proof batteries that last the full lifespan of the alarm with a 1 (e.g. D1). Higher Grades, approaching Grade A, and tamper-proof batteries for split Grades represent better protection.
Categories outline 3 different levels of coverage with LD3 having the fewest alarms and LD1 having the most. It is noted that an LD3 type system is intended to protect escape routes for those not directly involved in the fire and may not save the life of anyone in the immediate vicinity of the fire.
See our full guide to BS 5839 Part 6 for more details.
Smoke alarms, heat alarms, and carbon monoxide alarms powered from a mains circuit will usually also have an interlink or interconnect terminal next to the live and neutral wire terminals. If one alarm detects a fire or CO emergency it will pass the signal to the other units which will also sound an alarm throughout the property. This is particularly important for large buildings or if the bedroom is located far away from the kitchen. Outhouses and garages can also be connected into the radio-interlinked alarm system for added peace of mind.
Mains alarms can be connected to nearby lighting circuits for power, provided the light switch does not also turn off power to the alarm, but the interlink wire must be separate and not 'piggy-back' on a mains circuit as smoke, heat, and CO alarms are not designed to take 230V in their interlink terminal. If the property does not already have mains-powered alarms wired in, or if testing one of your existing alarms does not also cause the other alarms to sound, then an electrician will need to install a new interlink cable throughout the building.
Radio-interlinked smoke alarms, heat alarms, and carbon monoxide alarms communicate with each other via radio frequency (RF). If one alarm detects a fire or CO emergency it will pass the signal to the other units which will also sound an alarm throughout the property. This is particularly important for large buildings or if the bedroom is located far away from the kitchen. Outhouses and garages can also be connected into the radio-interlinked alarm system for added peace of mind.
Radio-interlinked alarms are sometimes referred to as wireless alarms, although this can be confusing when dealing with radio-interlinked units wired into the mains power supply in a building. Radio-interlinked mains powered alarms can contain a sealed back-up battery which lasts the full ten years of the alarm's life, a long life lithium back-up battery, or an alkaline back-up battery.
Only interlink alarms with alarms from the same model range and manufacturer. Alarms from different manufacturers are not compatible and attempting to interlink them could damage the alarms. If in doubt, check the instruction manual for the alarms before purchase – we provide PDF instruction manual downloads for the majority of smoke, heat, and CO alarms on our website.
Some ranges support mixing hardwired and radio-interlink alarms in the same network, which can reduce electrician costs and disruption. All alarms on each storey would be connected together via hardwire interlink, with one alarm on each storey also being connected to each other via RF signal. This could also save money on product costs, as mains-powered alarms without radio-interlink are usually the cheapest option for interlinking alarms. Please confirm before purchase if you require this functionality.