New smoke and carbon monoxide rules approved
With government figures confirming that smoke and carbon monoxide poisoning is responsible for 26 deaths and 670 injuries a year, Parliament approved the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 on Wednesday 16th September. From 1st October 2015, landlords in England, or agents acting on their behalf, will be required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties.
The new measures would bring private rented properties into line with existing building regulations and state;
• Smoke alarms will need to be fitted on every floor of a property, and tested at the start of every tenancy.
• Carbon monoxide alarms must be installed in rooms with a solid fuel appliance, which includes wood burners and open fires.
The rules have strong support after a consultation on property condition in the private rented sector. Communities Minister Stephen Williams said: “People are at least four times more likely to die in a fire in the home if there’s no working smoke alarm…. Carbon Monoxide is a highly poisonous gas that is very difficult to detect as you cannot see, smell or taste it. You may not be aware of its presence until it’s too late.”
However, the rules make it clear that landlords are not responsible to continue checking alarms are working, except at the start of every new tenancy, so it is up to the tenants to maintain the alarms whilst they are living at the property.
The penalty for not adhering to these new measures includes a hefty fine. If a local authority believes a landlord has not installed or checked an alarm adequately, it will serve a warning notice calling for action within 28 days.
If the landlord still ignores the warning, the local authority may get permission from the tenant to enter and install the necessary alarm. The landlord will be liable to a penalty fee of up to £5,000.
Joseph Hall, Head of Business Development, Lettings at Fenn Wright welcomes the change but believes it took too long to approve; “These changes were absolutely necessary. The statistics are concerning. However, my thoughts echo the recent statement of David Cox, ALRA Managing Director, about how short a notice this is for many landlords and letting agents. Cox said, ‘it is simply impractical for letting agents, who may manage a huge amount of properties, to gain access to the properties and to install these alarms on behalf of their clients in the time frame allotted.’
Hall continues: ‘These draft regulations were announced in March of this year, and unexpectedly since then it has had several knock backs. This has meant the draft was approved less than a month before it is to be implemented which is nowhere near enough time for a lot of people. However, at Fenn Wright the safety of our tenants is paramount and so we have always advised our landlords to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. We also advise that tenants regularly check their alarms whilst they’re living at their home as landlords are not required to do so.”
Fenn Wright has a highly experienced property management team, who have the relevant measures in place to ensure clients remain compliant with any new legislation announced for the private rented sector by the Government. If you are a new landlord, or looking to expand your property portfolio, contact our friendly teams across Essex and Suffolk for more information about such regulations.