Who is responsible for having the chimney swept in a rental property?
The occurrence of chimney fires, especially in the winter months, highlights the importance of ensuring that all chimneys are swept annually by a professional chimney sweep. However, a chimney’s primary function is to carry dangerous flue gases from the fireplace or wood burner safely out of the property.
Under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, the Landlord is legally responsible for ensuring the safety, working and servicing of all heating and hot water installations. Although the wording can seem ambiguous, this also refers to open fires, Rayburns, Agas, coal and wood burning stoves. This responsibility includes all flues and ventilation, therefore under this Act, it is the Landlord’s responsibility to have all chimneys swept annually in a rental property.
We know many Landlords who believe that if the tenant uses the fire, they should be liable but unfortunately the landlord cannot contract out of this responsibility. Even if a tenancy agreement were reworded to state that a tenant is responsible, this would not stand up in the courts. Given that a chimney fire could potentially cause considerable damage to a property, it should give Landlord’s piece of mind to know that a chimney is being regularly cleaned and inspected.
SMOKE & CARBON MONOXIDE ALARMS
Under the Building Regulations 1991 and the Smoke Detectors Act 1991, any property built since June 1992 must have mains fitted smoke alarms with battery back up on each floor of the property. .
The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 that came into force on 1st October 2015 require Landlords to have at least one smoke alarm fitted on every storey of their properties and a carbon monoxide detector in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. a coal fire, wood burning stove), regardless of the age of the property.
The Landlord must ensure that all alarms fitted in the property are in full working order at the start of a Tenancy and should make provision in the tenancy agreement for the tenant to regularly test the alarms and immediately report to the Landlord any defect.