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Reminder to agents over new CO legislation

A long-time safety campaigner is reminding agents and landlords that from October 1 the new Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 means they must install and check smoke and CO alarms at rental properties.

Not only must they ensure alarms are installed but they must be ‘in proper working order on the day the tenancy begins if it is a new tenancy.’

Whilst checking and testing a smoke alarm is relatively straightforward, John Stones - managing director of Gas Safe Europe - says there is less understanding amongst many property professionals on how to properly test a CO alarm.

This is particularly an issue as the actual test button on a CO alarm only tests that the battery, buzzer and electronics work and not the actual gas sensor itself.

Stones says testing the sensor is already a standard annual requirement in the USA and is the best way to ensure that a CO alarm is fully working. Stones - who has developed his own test method, called Detectagas - says the life expectancy of the sensor on a CO alarm is limited “as they age naturally but can also be unpredictable due to airborne pollutants such as cooking fumes and cigarette smoke.” 

He claims that reports from the USA and UK, including from this country’s health and Safety Executive, have found CO alarm reliability lacking with around 45 per cent found to be no longer sensing gas in tests. 

One report even found that 16 per cent of new alarms were not working out of the box.

“We are now working with BSI to develop a British Standard (PAS) for the sensor inclusive testing of domestic CO alarms. It will take some time but in the meantime the Energy Act 2015 is clear” he warns. 

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