The Government has announced that it is intended that landlords will be required to install working smoke alarms and where gas appliances are fitted, carbon monoxide (CO) alarms as well, in their properties. This is in a bid to raise safety and reduce the number of deaths from CO incidents in the rental sector.
The move is expected to prevent some 26 fatalities and 670 injuries per year, and is part of wider Government actions being undertaken to ensure there are sufficient measures in place to protect public safety.
These measures are expected to become effective from October 2015 subject to Parliamentary approval. Consultation has shown that this will be strongly supported. It has been suggested that England’s 46 fire and rescue authorities will provide support to private landlords within their areas by providing free alarms using grant funding from the government.
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 agreement.
These should be fitted to the ceiling, especially close to areas of high risk (kitchens for example) and outside bedrooms.
Landlords would also need to install carbon monoxide alarms in high risk rooms – such as those where a solid fuel heating system is installed. Although gas and oil may not be considered as solid fuel, CO alarms should also be fitted. In the rooms where these appliances are installed at a horizontal distance of between 1m and 3m from the source. If only one alarm is fitted it is best fitted relatively close to the breathing zone of the occupants.
Failure to comply could see landlords face up to a £5,000 penalty.
Brandon Lewis, Housing Minister, said “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”
Stephen Williams, Communities Minister, said “We’re determined to create a bigger, better and safer private rented sector – a key part of that is to ensure the safety of tenants with fire prevention and carbon monoxide warning.” “People are at least 4 times more likely to die in a fire in the home if there’s no working smoke alarm.”
Steve Martin, Head of the Fire and Security Association, said: “This announcement will help improve the safety of rented accommodation and punish those landlords who are putting the safety of their tenants at risk for the sake of saving a relatively small sum of money. Now private rented properties will be brought into line with the existing building regulations that require newly-built homes to have hard-wired smoke alarms installed.”