Smoke alarm, heat alarm and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm laws changed in Scotland at the start of February 2022. One month on from the change, we outline the key things you need to know about smoke, heat and CO alarms if you live in Scotland, plus whether similar rules apply elsewhere in the UK.
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.
Following the Grenfell Tower fire, 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.
Across the rest of the UK, alarm regulation is currently thin on the ground outside of the rental sector, where landlords are required to install and maintain alarms.
In England, for example, landlords need to install at least one smoke alarm on every storey of their property which is used as living accommodation, though there's no stipulation that they must be interlinked alarms.
Landlords are also required to fit a CO alarm in any room where solid fuel is burned. But with gas burning appliances found in many homes, the regulations also state that landlords are expected and encouraged to install working CO alarms in these rooms, too.
While there's a lack of regulation on installing alarms in privately owned homes across most of the UK, Which? members are taking safety into their own hands.
Nine in ten have smoke alarms installed, and three-quarters of those have two alarms or more. A similar number have a smoke alarm on every floor. Seven in ten also have a CO alarm.
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.
But 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.
In addition to the financial support available through Care and Repair Scotland, a further £1m has been given to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) to fit alarms for vulnerable people.
Standalone alarms can still be sold and installed in Scotland, but as additional alarms to an interlinked system. The SFRS told us that along with fitting interlinked alarms, it will continue to install standalone alarms in homes where it finds no alarms at all.
A question remains about whether you'll be insured if you have the wrong type of alarms. The Scottish government, the Association of British Insurers and the British Insurance Brokers Association advise policyholders to check their policies and speak to their insurers if it is unclear.
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. Find out how to complain about unfair treatment by an insurer in our guide on .
We've recently tested a range of interlinked smoke and heat alarms - check out how they fared in our thorough lab tests.