The Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (APHC) is notifying private sector landlords about the introduction of important smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) regulations, following their approval by Parliament.
The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015, which became legal on October 1, require landlords to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their properties and a (CO) alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance. After this date, landlords must check that the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.
The new requirements are being introduced with the aim of increasing the safety of private sector tenants by ensuring that they have working alarms at the beginning of the tenancy. The regulations will be enforced by local authorities, who can impose a fine of up to £5,000 in the event of a landlord failing to comply with a remedial notice. Landlords should note that their premises may also be subject to additional fire safety requirements under other legislation such as under Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The legislation currently only applies to England.
The government has funded a limited number of alarms, which landlords can obtain for free from local fire and rescue authorities, along with appropriate installation advice. Landlords can obtain information on how to acquire an alarm from their local fire and rescue service or visit www.alarms4life.com.
John Thompson, chief executive at APHC, said: “Statistics reveal that in the event of a fire in a domestic property, you’re at least four times more likely to die if there’s no working smoke alarm installed. As such, these new regulations are certainly to be welcomed and we would encourage private sector landlords to take advantage of free alarms by getting in contact with their local fire rescue authorities as soon as possible. It is, however, disappointing that higher risk gas and oil appliances have not been included in the legislation relating to carbon monoxide detectors, which only at this stage relates to solid fuel.”
The All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group (APPCOG) is warning that the regulations do not go far enough to protect private renters.
While the APPCOG recognises that these regulations represent a positive step forward in the fight to reduce CO related injuries and fatalities in England, homes containing solid fuel appliances constitute only 8.2% of the entire private rental sector – the fastest growing housing sector in England – so a chance has been missed to keep private tenants living in the majority of the 4.4 million private rented homes in England CO safe.
Additionally, critics have pointed out that England is lagging behind other UK nations in terms of providing tenants with this vital means of protection against CO poisoning. From December, all private landlords in Scotland will be required to install a CO alarm in any property that contains a fuel-burning appliance of any fuel type, while it has been compulsory in Northern Ireland since 2012 for a CO alarm to be installed whenever a new or replacement non-cooking combustion appliance is fitted in any room.
Requirements for new and replacement appliances in Scotland to be accompanied by an alarm have also been in place since 2013.
The APPCOG recommends for similarly all-encompassing requirements to be introduced in England, then private tenants across the UK would be equally protected from the threat of CO poisoning.
There has never been a death from CO poisoning in the UK when an audible alarm has been present. That is why it is crucial that tenants in the private sector are protected from CO poisoning, regardless of whether their home contains a solid fuel burning appliance or not.