Smoke detector installation

Since 8 March 2015 all inhabited buildings must be equipped with a smoke detector. This regulation applies to every dwelling, whether it’s a house or an apartment in a communal building, or whether it is rented out furnished or unfurnished.

Compulsory smoke detectors

It is up to the owner/landlord to take care of installing the detector but the responsibility for maintaining and replacing it generally lies with the occupant, except when it’s a holiday rental or a function room. In this case the responsibility remains with the landlord. The installation of a smoke alarm must allow for:

  • the detection of smoke emitted in the early stages of a fire
  • the immediate emission of a sound loud enough to wake a sleeping person

Who should install the smoke detector, the landlord or the tenant?

Whether the dwelling is furnished or unfurnished, it’s up to the owner/landlord to buy and install at least one approved smoke detector in the property. If the property was already let in March 2015, the owner can:

  • supply the tenant with a smoke detector
  • reimburse the tenant for buying one

In both cases, it is up to the tenant to fit the smoke detector.

Where should the smoke detector be installed?

Couloir d'appartement
The smoke detector should be installed preferably in an area where air is circulating freely (landing, hallway) between rooms. In properties where this is not possible (for example, studios), the detector should be installed as far away as possible from the kitchen and bathroom.
The detector must be solidly fixed at the highest possible point, away from the walls and from smoke outlets (smoke from cooking and water vapour). Smoke rises towards ceilings and this is where the detector should be installed, preferably in the middle of the room.
In a dwelling that comprises several floors, a detector should be installed on every floor. In properties with a large surface area, several detectors should be installed.
Of course, it is preferable to choose a location that is easily accessible for changing batteries, conducting tests, maintenance etc.

Who is responsible for verifying and maintaining the smoke detector?

Verifying the existence and correct functioning of the smoke detector is carried out in accordance with the check-in inventory.
In an unfurnished building, the tenant has responsibility for the testing and replacement of the detector. The tenant must adhere to the terms of the lease, making sure that the detector operates correctly, that there are batteries and that these are replaced, or that the detector itself is replaced if it malfunctions.
On the other hand, when a property is furnished, a holiday rental, a function room, a housing shelter or a hostel, it’s up to the owner to take charge of the installation and maintenance of the smoke detectors.

Characteristics of a smoke detector

The smoke detector must:

  • have a pressure switch.
  • be powered by batteries, have built in batteries or work off an electric circuit. Batteries replaced by the user must have a minimum operating life of one year. If the detector runs off the property’s electricity supply it must be equipped with an emergency back up system capable of taking over if the power supply fails.
  • have a visual, mechanical or sound signal independent of the electricity supply that shows the absence of batteries.
  • emit an alarm signal at a sound level that is at least 85 decibels at a distance of 3 metres.
  • emit a default noise signal with a different tone that signals the loss of the electricity supply to the detector.
  • have the following information marked in indelible ink: name or trademark and address of the manufacturer or supplier, number and date of the regulation to which the detector conforms, date of manufacture or serial number and type of battery used.
  • be supplied with information about the method of installation, the maintenance and upkeep of the detector and, particularly, instructions concerning the parts that must be regularly replaced.

Detectors employing ionization are not permitted because they are radioactive.

Insurance declaration regarding the installation of the smoke detector

The owner or the landlord who occupies his property must declare to his insurer that the property is equipped with a smoke detector.
There are no specific sanctions in a case where the regulations concerning the installation of smoke detectors have not been adhered to. However, the insurer will reduce the premium or insurance policy excess regarding fire damage if the insured has complied with the regulation. Also, the insurance policy cannot take into account the insured’s non-compliance with the regulation by depriving him of his right to indemnity in case of fire.

Model certificate to present to the insurer

« I the undersigned (surname, first name of the insured), holder of contract (contract number of the insured) certify that I have installed an approved smoke detector, which conforms to the standard NF EN 14604. »

Safety instructions in case of fire

  • As a preventative measure, do not obstruct the air circulation on landings.
  • Call or ask someone else to call the fire brigade (dial 18 in France or 112 in Europe).
  • Never walk into smoke. If you find yourself in a smoke filled room, always put a handkerchief over your nose and crouch down since fresh air is closer to the ground.
  • Never take a lift, always use the stairs.

Adapt your behaviour to the situation:

  1. If fire breaks out in your home and you can’t extinguish it immediately:
    • evacuate the building
    • close the door to your apartment
    • leave by the nearest exit
  2. If the fire is below you or on your level:
    • stay where you are
    • shut the door to your apartment and wet it
    • stand by the window
  3. If the fire is above you, leave by the closest security exit.

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About me

Maud Velter
Maud Velter
Legal & practical advice for furnished rentals
Associate Director of