Landlords will be required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties, under new measures announced by housing minister Brandon Lewis.
The government says the move will help prevent up to 36 deaths and 1,375 injuries a year.
The measure is expected to take effect from October 2015, and comes with strong support after a consultation on property condition in the private rented sector.
England’s 46 fire and rescue authorities are expected to support private landlords in their own areas to meet their new responsibilities with the provision of free alarms, with grant funding from government.
Lewis said: “In 1988 just 8% of homes had a smoke alarm installed – now it’s over 90%.
“The vast majority of landlords offer a good service and have installed smoke alarms in their homes, but I’m changing the law to ensure every tenant can be given this important protection.
“But with working smoke alarms providing the vital seconds needed to escape a fire, I urge all tenants to make sure they regularly test their alarms to ensure they work when it counts. Testing regularly remains the tenant’s responsibility.”
The proposed changes to the law would require landlords to install smoke alarms on every floor of their property, and test them at the start of every tenancy.
Landlords would also need to install carbon monoxide alarms in high risk rooms such as those where a solid fuel heating system is installed.
Those who fail to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms would face sanctions and could face up to a £5,000 civil penalty.
Alan Ward, chairman of the Residential Landlords Association said: “This is a policy that we campaigned hard for, and was a key part of the RLA’s manifesto for the private rented sector.
“Proposals for funding to provide free alarms to landlords are particularly welcome and I look forward to seeing the details of this.”