Smoke detectors/alarms required in March 2015

There’s been a lot in the press recently about the new requirement for smoke detectors/alarms to be fitted in residential property (whether owned or rented – the owner’s obligation in both cases). So we thought we’d help clarify some of the conflicting reports about this.

The new law on smoke detectors

The law comes into effect on 8 March 2015 and it requires smoke detectors to be fitted in corridors or hallways that lead to rooms that are regularly used (sitting rooms and bedrooms). France has traditionally lagged behind in using such detectors in private property, with under 5% of properties in France being equipped with a detector, compared to 90% in England.

All houses will need at least one smoke detector fitted. There is no mention – yet – that this must be done by an electrician.

The law can be found at http://www.service-public.fr/actualites/001544.html, and again at http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000027169390. You'll see that property owners will need to fit smoke alarms in rented property (including second homes). Long-term tenants will be responsible for the upkeep of alarms, their testing and battery renewal, whereas all this will need to be done by owners of holiday rental property.

What sort of smoke detector is required?

The device required is a smoke detector (détecteur / avertisseur de fumée or alarme de fumée). Many articles in the press go to great lengths to specify the characteristics of the required device (power indicator, battery life, strength of the audible signal, etc.), but all this can be simplified to: the device must conform to NF EN 14604. That should be all you need to look for.

A quick check with a local hardware store and then online shows Weldom selling 3 for between 7,70€ and 25,40€ and Leroy Merlin selling 16 for between 6,30€ and 100,00€. More expensive ones were either connectible to centrally-controlled alarm or security systems or had batteries that were guaranteed for 5 years. The cheapest might be sold with no battery. When you go looking, just remember to look for NF EN 14604.

Your obligations to Generali

If you insure your property with us, there are currently no specific obligations concerning smoke detectors. We ask all our new customers whether or not they have one or more smoke detectors fitted, but Generali haven’t specified whether ‘Yes’ currently results in reduced premiums or ‘No’ in higher ones. Similarly, Generali do not currently require you to provide us/them with an attestation that you have fitted detectors (if your answer had been ‘Yes’). We also do not know what will happen after 8 March 2015 if it transpires that you had to make a claim without having had smoke detector(s) installed. There are rumours of an excess being imposed, but we have not yet received a definitive statement on the matter. Once these uncertainties have been definitively clarified, we shall update this article.

In the meantime, our advice is that if you were going to install one or more smoke detectors, then simply ensure that they conform to the French norm NF EN 14604.

Proving that you have installed one or more smoke detectors

According to the arrêté du 5 février 2013, an occupant must provide basic information about the smoke alarm to their insurer. There is a sample attestation provided in Article Annexe II available at http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000027169390 which demonstrates the form of words that you can use. It’s pretty simple, as follows:

Je soussigné ___ (nom, prénom de l'assuré), détenteur du contrat n° ___ (numéro du contrat de l'assuré) atteste avoir installé un détecteur de fumée normalisé au ___ (adresse de l'assuré) conforme à la norme NF EN 14604.

You may find this type of attestation is provided with the smoke alarm that you buy. It will do no harm to keep the receipt. As we've said above, Generali have not yet published their requirements in detail. When they do, we shall update this article.

[As of February 2015, we have not yet been advised what Generali's specific policy terms will be with regard to smoke detectors/alarms. For the moment, we are therefore advising our clients who have fitted smoke detectors which conform to the law (see above) to please send us an attestation that you have fitted these in your property. We will update this article as and when we have further information (relating to possible premium reductions or increased excesses, if any).]

The information provided here is for general guidance. The exact details of your policy will define your legal and contractual obligations. What is written there will take precedence over what is written here.

Ces informations sont données à titre indicatif. Pour connaître précisément vos obligations légales ou contractuelles en relation avec votre contrat d’assurance, veuillez vous référer aux conditions générales et particulières de votre contrat.