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Changes to Fire Legislation Affecting Landlords

On 11th March it was announced that there would be a new legislation coming into force that would affect landlords of domestic / residential properties. The new legislation will come into play on 1st October where it will then be required by LAW to install a working smoke alarm or carbon monoxide alarm in the properties they own throughout England. Local Authorities will be enforcing this law as of October, where some of them are already prepared to enforce this due to licensing schemes for HMO's (House in Multiple Occupancy) where smoke alarms are already a requirement.

So, who will the new legislation cover?

Private landlords will be affected by this new legislation where the law will mean that they are legally required to enforce smoke or Co2 alarms throughout their England premises. Stephen Williams (Communities Minister) had this to say:

"We're determined to create a bigger, better and safer private rented sector - a key part of that is to ensure the safety of tenants with fire prevention and carbon monoxide warning."

It's advisable that, even without this new legislation, domestic landlords should do their utmost to take care of and protect the tenants who reside in their properties. By adding smoke or carbon monoxide alarms, this can be achieved.

We have had a flourish of landlords ask us recently who the new legislation will affect. We can tell you that it is only England, where landlords in Scotland are already required under existing legislations by law to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

What exactly needs to be fitted and to what standard?

Under new legislations it is required for alarms to be fitted in domestic properties to the following standards:

  • Smoke Alarms - These should be fitted to British Standard BS 5839-6:2013
  • Carbon Monoxide Alarms - These should be fitted to BS EN 50292:2013

Each standard defines which type of alarm should/can be used, and where they can be used in relation to Building Regulations.

Government Quote Regarding New Fire Legislation Affecting Landlords

In Section 150 of the Energy Act, it states: "The appropriate standard in relation to a smoke alarm or a carbon monoxide alarm, means the standard (if any) that is specified in, or determined under, regulations."

In the near future we hope to have clarification of the exact alarm types and siting requirements, however we do already know that landlords must fit a working smoke alarm on every storey of the property and a CO alarm in every room that has a solid fuel burning appliance.

With that being said, it should now become good practice to, and HS Electrical would recommend that, a CO alarm is fitted in every room that has any form of fuel burning appliance. Every alarm must be tested and in working order before and when a new tenant moves into the property. These alarms must adhere to the correct European and British Standards.

Is there a penalty for not complying with the law?

Local Authorities can give remedial notice to a landlord where they have grounds to believe that a landlord has not complied with the new legal requirements for both smoke alarms and CO alarms.

After the 28 days has elapsed, if the landlord fails to comply, then the Local Authority can arrange remedial action (if the occupier consents). This ensures tenants remain protected by working alarms and could mean action is taken to ensure alarms are installed, repair or checked for full working order.

Local Authorities may charge landlords up to £5000 if they fail to comply with the remedial notice handed to them, A large figure, but only a small price to pay if their failure to install alarms was to cost a tenant their life.

To Conclude

It always makes sense to install fire and carbon monoxide alarms in any property, but as of 1st October '15 it will be the law for landlords to do so in residential properties. All alarms must adhere to European and British Standards where failure to comply with the new legislation could result in a £5000 fine.

We will hopefully bring you more news soon about alarm types and standards which will no doubt help you in your quest for a safe future.

In the meantime, feel free to contact HS Electrical on: 020 8958 6495 if you have any questions relating to changes in legislation for Landlords and we will do our best to keep you informed.

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