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Tenant has disabled his smoke alarm

(32 Posts)
RachelDod Tue 18-Dec-18 12:47:46

We let out a small flat in london and my DH and I live in a rented flat as the flat we own is too small for us to live in and for various reasons we didn't want to sell it. We let it out fully managed through a very well known national estate agent and pay the full management fees.

At the beginning of November after a routine inspection by the estate agent they informed me the tenant has removed his smoke alarm from the flat. No reason given. I explained I needed him to put this back ASAP for obvious reasons, and also insurance etc and asked the letting agent to let me know when this had been done.

Since then I have chased twice and the property manager has said she has asked him to send a photo of it when it's back in place - he still hasn't. I'm very concerned about this and have emailed the property manager saying this and just get replies of "I haven't heard back from him".

Apart from a couple of months of late payments the tenant has been paying rent on time and the property (apart from this) seems to be being kept to a decent standard. What would you do in this situation? He is in a fixed term contract with another 8 months to run before a break clause.

DaysOfCurlySpencer Tue 18-Dec-18 12:50:49

Assume it was a battery one and it was annoying him. Could you get one wired into the electrics so that he can't easily remove it?

DayManChampionOfTheSun Tue 18-Dec-18 12:50:55

There are 2 reasons I can see for him doing this.

1) he is smoking in there and doesn't want the fag smoke setting the alarm off

2) the alarm is in a stupid location (ours is!) and every time he cooks, the bloody alarm goes off.

RachelDod Tue 18-Dec-18 12:51:42

@DaysOfCurlySpencer I don't think I should have to pay for him doing damage to the property. Why would a battery smoke alarm annoy him?

Satsumaeater Tue 18-Dec-18 12:53:55

Because they beep when the battery is low (easy solution: change batteries) and also, sometimes, when the weather is very cold (ours do).

gamerchick Tue 18-Dec-18 12:54:51

Smoke alarms are annoying, especially if you're cooking.

You need to wire one up to the mains if you want him to leave it up. Yes it'll cost you money.

Sirzy Tue 18-Dec-18 12:55:49

Can you arrange for your local fire service to go in and do a safety check including installing alarms? They do it for free in most areas

saminlondon Tue 18-Dec-18 12:57:32

You've done all you can do - if he's disabled it without your knowledge then you can't be held liable

RachelDod Tue 18-Dec-18 12:57:45

@gamerchick That's not true legally or in the tenancy agreement. There's no part of the agreement that says it's not a breach of tenancy to tear down a battery operated smoke alarm hmm

I lived in the property for two years and the alarm didn't beep or go off when cooking. Maybe the batteries got low and it started beeping, wouldn't have minded changing the batteries!

gamerchick Tue 18-Dec-18 13:00:15

Aw well if it never happened to you..... grin

I never mentioned legal shit, what you going on about hmm smoke alarms are bloody irritating, if you want him to keep it up then wire one in so he can't take it down 1+1

Oldraver Tue 18-Dec-18 13:01:21

Wired ones still have batteries and are easy to remove so long as you press the little tag in and not break it off like I did.

If it goes off when cooking look into getting an optical one, they cost a bit more but still better than the tennant removing it

DonDrapersOldFashioned Tue 18-Dec-18 13:01:35

So he is breaching the terms of his tenancy agreement and putting himself, his neighbours and your property at risk? Is that right?

How many warnings are you going to give him before you evict him for breaching his contract?

RachelDod Tue 18-Dec-18 13:02:15

You need to wore one up to the mains if you want him to leave it up

No I don't because he's signed a legally binding tenancy agreement that involved leaving the smoke alarm in place.

By your logic do I also need to nail down all the furniture if I don't want him to throw anything out?

Oldraver Tue 18-Dec-18 13:02:55

Oh and put 10 year battery in

DaysOfCurlySpencer Tue 18-Dec-18 13:04:21

Renting a property involves expenses, whether you want to pay it or not depends on whether he is likely to set fire to the place. Wired in would cover you insurance wise, as long as he didn't mess with it. We paid for some stuff we didn't want to pay for when we rented our house out, but it was to prevent other problems (like the one you have now).

When we moved in I removed all the irritating door closers and we also took the batteries out of the smoke alarms because they beep, beep, beep at random times when they are running down, usually just as you are dropping off to sleep. Some of them go off every time you fry an egg. If you haven't given him a ladder to reach it and instructions on how to use it I don't blame him for wanting it silenced.

However, to satisfy the letting requirements it would be pertinent to fix one so that he can't fiddle with it. What else can you do, apart from personally go and check it every few months and change the batteries for him?

RachelDod Tue 18-Dec-18 13:04:29


Yes, thank you that's right. He is breaching the terms of his tenancy, and putting himself and his neighbours at risk, plus invalidating my insurance.

In the wake of fire related tragedies in flats I would expect people to understand that it's not OK to remove smoke alarms from properties and refuse to put them back.

I don't know what to do except to threaten to evict him if he doesn't comply by reinstalling the alarm but don't know where I stand on it. I could get the work done and take it out of his deposit but he would have to agree to allow a workman access?

RachelDod Tue 18-Dec-18 13:05:33

He does have a ladder in the property.

RachelDod Tue 18-Dec-18 13:06:06

And he hasn't just removed batteries he has torn the alarm from the ceiling.

PositivelyPERF Tue 18-Dec-18 13:06:36

Where is the smoke alarm? If it’s the cooking that sets it off, can you get a heat detector instead? That’s what I have in the kitchen and then smoke alarms in the rest of the house. I don’t know if you can get battery operated ones.

StripyDeckchair Tue 18-Dec-18 13:06:50

First check the terms with your management company and see if you can find some phrasing that emphasises their obligations to resolve this. Even something as broad as 'we provide a complete, hassle-free service'. Then email the most senior person you can find contact details for directly and politely ask that they provide this service by resolving this with the tenant asap.

If that doesn't get you anywhere I would give the tenant the requisite 24 hours notice and say you are coming to the property to inspect the smoke alarm (perhaps with someone from the management agency). Again, be polite but firm and point out that this is not just about your insurance but from a genuine concern for his safety. Say that you will happy to discuss any issues with the smoke alarm with him on that visit or via phone/email and will resolve these if he tells you what they are. If the smoke alarm is not in place you will be arranging for the fitting of an alarm that cannot be removed and will be requesting the management agency to carry out additional inspections.

Oysterbabe Tue 18-Dec-18 13:07:06

The wired in ones are easily removed too.

RachelDod Tue 18-Dec-18 13:07:55

@PositivelyPERF it's in the hallway. Like I said previously I lived in the property myself for two years and never had issues with the alarm going off when cooking.

As a tenant wouldn't you report that to a landlord as opposed to just tearing something down and refusing to put it back though?

PositivelyPERF Tue 18-Dec-18 13:11:12

Then he’s being a dick. My oldest lives in rented accommodation and there’s a bit that states he can be fined £50 if he lets the battery run down and doesn’t replace it himself as the agent will do it if he doesn’t. He gets fined £100 if he damages it.

StripyDeckchair Tue 18-Dec-18 13:11:27

You can get alarm guards that prevent someone tampering with it unless they are trying really hard. I don't know whether these affect the sensitivity of the smoke alarm at all though or what the regulations are on them.

NaiceShoes Tue 18-Dec-18 13:15:25

OP you'd be better off posting on a landlord forum. Mumsnet users tend to hate landlords so you'll be getting silly answers like give him the house or something.

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