In a move aimed at preventing many deaths and hundreds of injuries, private landlords in England will be required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties from October 2015.
In the 1980s less than 10% of homes had a smoke alarm installed – now the figure is over 90%. Carbon monoxide monitoring, however, lags behind despite a number of high profile fatalities and the new legislation aims to provoke rapid improvement.
The legislation requires landlords to install smoke alarms on every floor of their property, and test them at the start of every tenancy, though the most recent research would suggest this is not nearly enough. Contemporary Best Practice recommendations suggest that, since many carbon monoxide detectors currently in place are either non-functional or have such impaired function that they could not hope to prevent injury, testing should be carried out weekly.
Landlords now also need to install carbon monoxide alarms in all rooms deemed to be at ‘high risk’, such as those with solid fuel appliances.
English landlords who fail to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms now face a civil penalty of up to £5000.
The Scottish Government produces an Advice Pack for Private Landlords containing the latest regulation on carbon monoxide protection, which aims to bring the responsibilities of landlords more into line with those of builders of new homes. From December 2015, private landlords will have to ensure their properties meet the ‘repairing standard’ in relation to the provision for ‘giving warning if carbon monoxide is present in a concentration that is hazardous to health’.
Private landlords in Scotland are required by law to ensure this standard is met at the start of a tenancy and throughout the life of a tenancy. In the words of the official guidance, ‘The repairing standard sets a high benchmark for CO detection, matching the standard required for new building. Private landlords should make every effort to ensure that all the properties they let to tenants meet this standard regardless of when the tenancy started and what previous requirements have already been met.’
The full guidance is available from the Scottish Association of Landlords.