Tenants Covering Smoke and Heat Detectors

A recent inspection visit showed the tenants were covering the smoke/heat detectors with foil. When asked for the reason, they claimed the alarm goes off every time they cook. I do not think the tenants smoke. Also, the kitchen has an extraction fan, window and a door to the backyard.
I did explain to them (verbally and in writing) that was not acceptable as it is a health and safety hazard and also a breach of contract (tampering with alarms). They apologised, sent me a phot of the detectors not being covered and promised not to do this again.

Few weeks later, HMO officers visited the property and the same issue (covering smoke/heat detectors with foil) was there. Covering the detectors with foil also resulted in the alarm panel showing a fault. The HMO officer wrote to me about this and again, I sent an email to the tenants asking them not to do this again.

Yesterday, the agent went to check a leak and he sent me a photo of foil covering the detectors.

I am not sure how to deal with this… fellow landlords plz advise.


Can they be relocated to stop cooking from setting them off?

Are you convinced this is true?

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Do the alarms have a ‘pause / silence’ button that they can easily press when activated, which will silence for a few minutes before re-activating?

In the kitchen, have you got a heat sensor or smoke sensor? Maybe a heat sensor would be best.

I do not think they smoke (never smelled it). Their cooking does smell, but that is their business.

Relocating is not simple as the location was chosen to satisfy the regulations (also, there will be some modifications needed to the wiring etc).

I did spend some time at the property myself and never had an issue when I had food in the grill… opening the window and kitchen door along with the extraction fan was more than enough.

So back to my question: what shall I do?

Heat sensor in the kitchen and smoke alarm at the entrance.
The alarm has a pause button but I guess it is easier for them just to cover it!

What does the HMO inspector recommend?

Kitchen has to be heat sensor NOT smoke detector for that very reason

a heat sensor should not go off so easily is it in the wrong spot?

You have no choice. You have to serve notice on the tenants now/asap. Its a safety issue. I wouldnt accept any more promises either.


Told you, heat sensor in the kitchen and smoke alarm at the entrance.

Covering the heat and smoke detectors with foil caused the alarm panel to show a fault (I did not know this till I have asked them to remove the foil, resat the alarm and it did not complain afterwards). So, the HMO officer put it in writing I had to get the alarm system professionally serviced and I need to get a certificate. In fact I am wondering if I can pass these charges to the tenants as it is obviously their mistake… not sure if this is legal.

I did that yesterday. I hate to do this though.

If it was your own house and the smoke alarm in the kitchen was so badly placed that it went off everytime you did some cooking you would do something about it .
You would either remove it ,disconnect it ,cover it up or resite it further away from the cooker . To suggest opening doors and windows might be ok in July but not in January. Ive seen smoke alarms placed above cookers or within a yard or two of a cooker which is asking for a load of hassle. Those optical smoke alarms are a great theoretical idea from a health and safety angle as they are even more sensitive but dont try cooking anything .

The property is a one bedroom flat with the kitchen open to the living room. The company which installed the alarm system followed the regulations/recommendations regarding the locations of the detectors. Heat detector in the kitchen and smoke detector at the entrance. Tenants were told to close the living room/kitchen door so the cooking smell doe snot get into the smoke detector at the entrance. They were told to use the extraction fan and open window/door as needed.
It is not up to me just to relocate the smoke detector.
Hope this clarifies the situation.

You talking about HMO then 1 bedroom flat is different responsibility

Is it an HMO or is it a one bedroom flat or do you mean you have a building with multiple flats in or?

Define Fire brigade does do free checks on certain properties, why not ask them to pop in and see if they can advise. Remember this is not just a safety issue for the flat concerned it’s a safety issue for others for if there’s a fire in your flat and the smoke detectors have been blocked off, it’s not just a case of health and safety. It’s a case of danger to life.

If the Fire brigade state detectors you have are correct and are in the right place and there’s nothing wrong with them. Get it in writing.

You know I have a choice serve notice if the Tenant their final warning.

If the fire brigade recommend changes and follow these notify all parties concerned that the changes have been complied with. Then, if you still have repeat issues with the Tenant issue were final warning and then serve notice if no changes occur.

I am a tenant and I believe it is against the law to cover smoke detectors. Why would people do that. Have you tried to go there when they’re cooking and see if what they’re saying is true and try to find a solution if so? That’s what my landlord would do. I have some common sense and would never cover a smoke alarm. It defeats the purpose of having them.

we did advise them what to do when cooking … I did give notice. Let’s see how it goes

It is one bedroom flat in a building with multiple flats … so it goes under HMO (or that’s what I’ve been told by the council)

It doesnt mean your individual flat is an HMO as its the building owners/managers that are liable for the HMO. However, as other flats would be affected by a fire, you are probably bound by the buiding Fire Safety Order.