Smoke and CO Alarms to be a Legal Requirement for Rental Properties
Under new measures announced, 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.
Designed to prevent deaths and reduce injuries
The statistics show that people are at least four times more likely to die in a house fire if there’s no working smoke alarm. 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. The onus for testing alarms will remain on the tenant.
Once the changes come into force, it is estimated the new law will help to prevent 2 deaths and 670 injuries a year. 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.
DCLG statistics for 2014 show that:
• Those without a working smoke alarm in their home are at least four times more likely to die in a fire.
• 12 percent of homes do not have a smoke alarm fitted, yet smoke alarms were not present 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 landlords’ 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.
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.
Commenting on the changes, the British Property Federation, said: “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.”
The new regulations are expected to come into force, subject to Parliamentary approval, on 10 October 2015.
For the latest information about what these changes mean for you, get in touch with your Property Officer.