Please Note: This Article is 7 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.


From the 1st of December 2015, new regulations will come into force in Scotland regarding the provision of long-life carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in privately rented housing. This addition to the Housing (Scotland) Act is an amendment to the existing Repairing Standard which, in basic terms, requires landlords to ensure that rented properties are habitable, structurally sound and inherently safe.

Who does the legislation apply to?

The new regulations have firmly shifted the duty of care regarding the provision of carbon monoxide detection to landlords. The legislation applies to all landlords in Scotland renting out property with fixed combustion appliances of any kind, with the exception of appliances used exclusively for cooking.

To help clarify the new legislation, the following advice was issued as part of the Scottish Government’s guidance in preparation for the change:

“Landlords… should be aware of their personal responsibility to ensure any house they rent meets the repairing standard which now includes this new duty in relation to carbon monoxide detection”

Scottish Government’s Statutory Guidance for the Provision of Carbon Monoxide Alarms In Private Rented Housing.

Don’t HMO’s already have rules in place?

Current guidance governing the licencing of HMO’s in Scotland already dictates that a carbon monoxide alarm must be present in any room containing a gas appliance. It should, however, be noted that the new general legislation covers ALL rented properties, including HMO’s. It also wisely refers to all combustion appliances rather than being limited to any single fuel source.

This means that landlords of HMO’s must take care to ensure they are fully covered in respect of the new general legislation. The pre-existing HMO specific rules meant they may not have been legally obliged to provide a CO detector if only coal or oil was used for fuel within the property. However, the new regulations have closed this loophole to ensure tenants are protected universally, regardless of the type of fuel being burnt.

Why has this change been made?

The likelihood of exposure to carbon monoxide poisoning is three times greater in privately rented homes than in other housing types. The planned addition to the Housing (Scotland) Act supplements changes already introduced to Scottish building regulations. Since the 1st of October 2013, Scottish building regulations have mandated that a CO alarm must be fitted whenever a boiler, fire, heater or stove is installed or replaced.

How will this affect me?

All landlords in Scotland are now duty bound to provide a carbon monoxide detector with an integrated long life battery. This means that even if a CO detector with removable batteries has previously been supplied, it must be exchanged for a unit with a sealed long life battery.

“CO detectors should be powered by a battery designed to operate for the working life of the detector”
Scottish Government’s Statutory Guidance for the Provision of Carbon Monoxide Alarms In Private Rented Housing


Where exactly should I install the alarms?

The general requirement for the installation of carbon monoxide alarms is to site an alarm in every space (room) containing a fixed combustion appliance and in any bedrooms or living rooms through which a flue from a combustion appliance passes.

To meet your obligations under the Repairing Standard it may therefore be necessary to install more than one device.

As for the location of the alarm within each identified space, deference should always be given to the instructions supplied with the detector being installed. However, in general terms, CO detectors can either be wall or ceiling mounted, but must be positioned away from corners, windows and spaces with restricted air-movement.

Position ceiling mounted CO detectors a minimum of 30cm away from any walls, and place wall mounted detectors a minimum of 15cm below the ceiling.

The ideal distance between the detector and the appliance is between 1 and 3 metres in an average sized room.

CO Locations

What do I do if the appliance is in a cupboard?

Central heating boilers can often be found within a cupboard or other enclosed space such as a closet. If your property contains a boiler within a small or restricted space the following guidance has been issued:

“If the combustion appliance (primarily boilers) is located within a small space, usually a cupboard, the detector should be sited outside the space/cupboard with the appropriate distance between appliance and detector of between 1 and 3 metres.”

Scottish Government’s Statutory Guidance for the Provision of Carbon Monoxide Alarms In Private Rented Housing.

What do I do if the appliance is in the attic?

Specific instructions are provided for instances where a combustion appliance is sited within an attic. If this is the case in your property, the guidelines state:

“If the combustion appliance (primarily boilers) is located in an attic, the detector should ideally be sited between 1 and 3 metres from the appliance in the attic and another interlinked detector sited outside the attic near the attic hatch.”
Scottish Government’s Statutory Guidance for the Provision of Carbon Monoxide Alarms In Private Rented Housing.

Therefore, if you rent out a property with a boiler in the attic, it is necessary to take these extra precautions to ensure your tenants are protected. Interlinked CO alarms are available that connect either with radio-interlink or with a wire connection.


Who is responsible for maintaining the alarms?

The ongoing responsibility of landlords in regards to the Repairing Standard means that should a carbon monoxide detector fail or expire during an active tenancy, it is the responsibility of the landlord to supply a suitable replacement.

What happens if I don’t comply?

Landlords in Scotland that fail to provide CO detectors can be referred to the Private Rented Housing Panel (PRHP) by either the tenant, or the local authority. The PRHP is then able to issue what is called a ‘Repairing Standard Enforcement Order’ which obliges the landlord to comply within a set timeframe or face further action.

Where can I get further advice?

Whilst any final judgements regarding compliance in Scotland can only be made by the PRHP, we are happy to offer our expertise to help you identify the best products to help ensure you comply with the legislation and protect your tenants.

Safelincs offers a vast array of carbon monoxide detectors  and a variety of information resources throughout the website, including a comprehensive advice section dedicated to helping landlords handle fire safety issues. You will also find a section for landlords within our widely praised fire safety forum.

Of course, if you have any further questions regarding this legislation that have not been covered, please feel free to contact our customer service team via, or on 0800 612 6537. We would be happy to help, and will always aim to identify the most cost effective products to ensure you comply with this legislation.

Please Note: This Article is 7 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.


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