Sep 9, 2015

New smoke alarm legislation for landlords

The statistics for death and injury from domestic fires are shocking. Between April 2013 and March 2014, 97 people died and 1,900 were injured in properties where no smoke alarm was present.

Carbon monoxide poisoning accounts for, on average, approximately 50 deaths per year and over 1,100 hospital admissions a year, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

A report by the Gas Safety Trust, based on 15 years worth of data, noted that residents of rental properties are, on average, three times more likely to suffer a carbon monoxide-related incident. While a Landlords website estimates that the national percentage of all households with a working smoke alarm currently stands at more than 90 per cent compared with 83 per cent in rental properties.

So why are we sharing these uncomfortable facts? Because, as of October 2015, landlords are being made responsible by law, for installing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. For all new tenancies commencing 1st October 2015, landlords will have to fit mounted long-life or mains-powered smoke alarms on every floor of the property and a carbon monoxide alarm in all areas where there is a solid fuel appliance. Landlords who don’t have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in place by October face a £5,000 fine.

Previously, it had been down to the discretion of each landlord or letting agent but the government decided that making carbon monoxide and smoke alarms a legal requirement would better safeguard the rights of tenants. Housing Minister Brandon Lewis has said he hoped the move would help prevent more than 26 deaths and 670 injuries a year. Given the statistics quoted earlier, this seems a conservative estimate for the lives that will be saved thanks to these measures.

England’s 46 fire and rescue authorities have, understandably, been supporting private landlords and fitting the alarms for free and instructing tenants on how to use them. At the start of every tenancy, all alarms must be tested by the landlord or letting agency but from then on the responsibility lies with the tenants themselves for ensuring the alarms are tested regularly.

If you would like more information about the new law or if you would like support to implement the regulations in your property, contact Absolute Property’s Management Department.

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