Smoke detectors have been mandatory for all rental properties since July 1st 2022. For newly built properties this obligation has been in effect for some time. But the same regulations now apply to existing real estate as well. The new rules state that a smoke detector must be installed on every floor of your home with a living room, bedroom or kitchen. But is the tenant or the landlord responsible for installing smoke detectors?
Landlord is obliged to install Smoke Detectors
The owner or landlord is obliged to install smoke detectors in rental properties. A tenant does have to cooperate in installing, checking and if necessary replacing the batteries of the smoke detectors though. In that respect, there exists a shared responsibility for smoke detectors between tenant and landlord.
Why are Smoke detectors mandatory?
The mandatory presence of smoke detectors in all real estate is meant to reduce the number of domestic fires victims. Most victims of domestic fires occur at night due to smoke inhalation. This is a direct result of the fact that your sense of smell does not work at night. This is where smoke detectors come in; they will detect the smoke and alert you. Because fortunately, your sense of hearing still works well while asleep.
How do you choose the right Smoke Detector as a Landlord?
Smoke detectors must always have a CE marking and comply with the European EN 14604 standard. This standard sets strict rules for the production and sales of smoke detectors. So the first thing you should check is whether the smoke detector meets these two standards. Apart from this, one of the most important characteristics of a smoke detector is the type of battery it works on; lithium or regular batteries. Lithium batteries last about 10 years. If you opt for a smoke detector that uses normal batteries, you can expect to have to replace them approximately every year. Not very convenient, but especially not if you don’t live in a property yourself. So if you rent out your home, we definitely recommend a detector with a lithium battery.
Why do you have to replace your Smoke Detector after 10 Years?
According to European standards, smoke detectors must be replaced every 10 years. Over time the detection of smoke by a smoke detector becomes less accurate. This is because dust contaminates the part of the smoke detector that is supposed to detect smoke. As a result, it may detect smoke too late or might even give a false alarm. As mentioned before, a smoke detector with a lithium battery has a lifespan of 10 years. So this coincides nicely with the lifespan of the smoke detector itself.
Do you still have an ionic type Smoke Detector?
Nowadays you can only buy optical smoke detectors. These work with an infrared light beam. Until the end of 2005, ionic smoke detectors were also sold. These work with slightly radioactive charged particles. Ionic smoke detectors are very environmentally polluting. Because of this, selling them has been prohibited by law in the Netherlands in 2005. Do you still have an ionic smoke detector in your house? The technical lifespan of an ionic smoke detector is 10 years, so by definition it should be replaced by now. Please note that the presence or replacement of these smoke detectors do not pose a danger to your health. Do make sure however to dispose of removed smoke detectors in small chemical waste.
Where do you place your Smoke Detectors?
So you are all set and purchased your smoke detectors. But what is the best spot to install them in your (rental) property? Placing smoke detectors in your property must comply with the conditions set by the NEN2555 safety standard. Below are a few important points of attention that affect the correct functioning of the smoke detector(s):
- Preferably place a smoke detector on the ceiling, in the middle of a room. Smoke rises and collects at the top of the room against the ceiling. This means that a detector placed on the ceiling will respond faster than a detector that is placed on the wall.
- Place the detector in a hallway at the highest point (all the way up the stairs). Do this at a safe distance from the stairs so you can safely place, test or replace the smoke detector.
- A smoke detector is preferably placed half a meter from the wall. When smoke develops, a ‘blind spot’ is formed in the space between the wall and the ceiling. Here smoke will not reach the detector or will reach it too late.
- Place smoke detectors as much as possible away from other objects, such as light boxes, lampshades or other objects on the ceiling. These provide the same ‘blind spot effect’ and make that the detector cannot do its job optimally.
- Preferably avoid a place near ventilation openings or a heater. The resulting air currents can affect the functioning of the smoke detector.
More information about how and where to place your smoke detectors can be found, for example, on the page of the Dutch Fire Brigade.
What else do you need to know when installing your Smoke Detectors?
- Smoke detectors must be present on every floor with a living room, bedroom or kitchen. However, a smoke detector is not mandatory for attics or basements that are only used as storage.
- Make sure to read the smoke detector’s user manual carefully before mounting it and test your detector on a regular basis.
- Set a reminder to replace the battery of your smoke detector and stick a label with the date of the last battery change on the smoke detector itself.
- In larger properties it is wise to choose smoke detectors that can be connected with one another. This ensures that all detectors go off if one is triggered. There are also detectors that you can connect to your mobile phone. This way you will also be warned if you are not at home.
- The Owners’ Association (VvE) has no role in installing smoke detectors. As an owner, you are responsible for this in your own home. There are no guidelines for smoke detectors in common areas.
Property Management and Smoke Detectors
Perhaps Expat Housing or another party is in charge of your property management? Even then, as owner of a property, you are the one responsible for installing smoke detectors. As a property manager, we are able to assist with this and ensure that a recognized company comes to your home to provide it with smoke detectors in the correct way. If you are interested in this service or if you would like to receive more information about what our property management packages entail? Feel free to contact us by phone or email.