Publication - Factsheet

Fire and smoke alarms: changes to the law

What homeowners need to know.
3 Apr 2018
Fire and smoke alarms: changes to the law

All homes will be covered as we believe that buildings should be safe for occupants regardless of tenure.

Alarm requirements

All homes should have:

  • one smoke alarm installed in the room most frequently used for general daytime living purposes
  • one smoke alarm in every circulation space on each storey, such as hallways and landings
  • one heat alarm installed in every kitchen
  • all alarms should be ceiling mounted
  • all alarms should be interlinked

There will also be a requirement for carbon monoxide detectors to be fitted where there is a carbon-fuelled appliance or a flue.

Interlinked smoke alarms

The requirements mean that all alarms must be interlinked. Existing smoke alarms will need to be reviewed to ensure they meet this requirement.

You may not hear an alarm closest to the fire but, by having an interlinked system, you will be alerted immediately.

Alarm types: battery or mains-wired

You can install mains-wired and tamper proof long-life lithium battery alarms

Installing mains-wired alarms in flats and in houses over three storeys also requires a building warrant from your local authority


Any costs will be the responsibility of home owners.

The cost of each mid-range sealed long-life battery alarm is between £40 and £80.

Mains-wired alarms are generally cheaper than the sealed long-life battery alarms; however, installation will need to be carried out by an electrician which will be an additional cost to consider.

We estimate the cost for an average two bedroom, two storey house could be between £160 and £280. A one bedroom flat should cost between £120 and £200.


There will be a two year period for compliance once the regulations are in force, meaning homeowners would have until early 2021. However, installing alarms at the earliest opportunity will provide improved fire safety in your home.

Tenements/blocks of flats

In a shared property such as a tenement or block of flats there is no requirement for different properties to fit alarms linked to each other.


Most home owners want to make their homes as safe as possible. Home fire safety visits from Scottish Fire and Rescue Service can be arranged, advising homeowners on fire safety and how to comply with the standards.

Compliance will also form part of any Home Report and it may be introduced as a requirement by home insurance companies. Because this will be a minimum standard for safe houses, local authorities will be able to use their statutory powers to require owners to carry out work on substandard housing.

Private renting

The proposed standards are an extension to the existing standards for privately rented properties, so a private landlord should already be complying.


Social housing

The proposed standards will be added to the standards social landlords have to meet under the Scottish Social Housing Standard, which is monitored by the Scottish Housing Regulator.

Other fire safety issues

We ran a fire and smoke alarms consultation which highlighted wider fire safety issues, including fire doors, and this will inform the work of the Ministerial Working Group on Building and Fire Safety.



Scottish Government
Housing and Social Justice Directorate
Victoria Quay