Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms will be a legal requirement for rental properties

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms will be a legal requirement for rental properties

Under new measures announced by the housing minister Brandon Lewis, all landlords will be required by law to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms (CO) in their properties from October 2015.

The move is part of a wider government push to ensure sufficient measures are in place to protect public safety, without driving up the cost of rent or restricting the supply of homes. The proposed changes have garnered strong support following a consultation on the condition of properties in the private rented sector.

Dwellings with no smoke alarm accounted for 38% of deaths in home fires in Great Britain, and nearly one fifth of deaths occurred where no smoke alarm worked.Source: Fire Statistics April 2013 – March 2014
The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG)

Smoke alarms provide the vital extra few seconds people need to escape, and represent the simplest and most effective method of protecting tenants and homeowners from a fire. This is a worrying statistic that we hope will fall when more properties are fitted with the necessary detectors.

The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has pressured the government to make a change to the law, arguing that the small cost of fitting alarms will be far outweighed by the economic and human benefits.

Department of Communities and Local Government statistics for 2014 show that:

  • Homeowners without a working smoke alarm are at least 4x times more likely to die in a fire
  • Smoke alarms were not installed/working in nearly 40% percent of house fire deaths
  • The vast majority of landlords already fit smoke alarms to their properties. The regulations will force rogue landlords to take the safety of their tenants – often the most vulnerable members of the community – more seriously
  • Significant decreases in fatalities have resulted from regulatory changes on foam-filled furniture and building regulations; this move represents the next logical step

The landlord’s obligations

The proposed changes to the law will make it mandatory for landlords to install smoke alarms on every floor of their property, and test them before the start of every new tenancy. Landlords will also be required to install carbon monoxide alarms in every room considered to be a high risk, such as those where solid fuel heating systems are present.

Any landlords who fail to meet these new requirements will face sanctions, with a maximum penalty of a £5,000 fine if no smoke or CO alarms are installed. These amendments to the legislation will bring private rented properties into line with existing building regulations, which dictate that all newly built homes must have hard wired smoke alarms installed.

It is quick, cheap and easy to install these pieces of equipment, so making them mandatory makes sense and should weed out those who are currently putting their tenants at risk. While the majority of landlords adhere to best practice by ensuring fire and smoke detectors are installed in every property they own, we feel that landlords and tenants can only benefit from this additional safeguard.British Property Federation

Fire and rescue authorities are expected to help private landlords meet their obligations through the provision of free fire alarms, to be paid for by grant funding from the government. The funding allocation for fire and rescue authorities will be announced shortly.

The vast majority of private landlords offer a good service to their tenants and already have smoke alarms installed in their properties. In 1988, just 8 percent of homes had a smoke alarm installed – now it’s over 90 percent. However, this change to the law will give every tenant the protection they need.

The new regulations are expected to come into force, subject to Parliamentary approval, on 10 October 2015.

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