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Trade body accuses agents of 'failing to get a grip' on new laws

A trade body has accused some letting agents and landlords of “failing to get to grips” with several recent legal changes in the private rental sector. 

The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks says that members frequently receive queries about new industry regulations, particularly those regarding carbon monoxide and smoke alarms and window blinds.

Since October 2015 it has been mandatory for a smoke alarm to be installed on every floor of a rental property where someone is living, partially living or is deemed as a habitable area. Bathrooms, for example, are viewed as habitable areas.

The same legislation requires agents acting for landlords, or go-it-alone landlords themselves, to also fit carbon monoxide alarms in rooms with a solid fuel-burning appliance, including wood burners and open fires.

The AIIC says that agents' and landlords’ most common queries regarding these new regulations concern the location and type of alarm as well as when they need to be tested.

The association says its members have also reported receiving queries from letting agents and landlords relating to safety requirements for blinds and curtains. This follows the introduction by the British Standards Institution in 2014 of new safety requirements aiming to address child safety risks posed by blinds and curtains.

The requirements mean that any blind which is installed with cords and chains has to have breakaway connectors and cord and chain safety retainers. The cords and chains must also be maintained at a minimum 1.5 metres from floor level.

All new blinds or curtain tracks which are fitted by a professional must now pass the new standard, meeting the necessary safety requirements and test methods. If an accident involving a non-compliant blind or curtain track takes place in a rental property, the landlord could face prosecution from trading standards.

"A worryingly large number of letting agents and landlords are still completely unaware of some important new regulations according to our members, who are being asked to explain health and safety rules," comments AIIC chair Patricia Barber. 

The AIIC chief adds that the private rental sector is fast-changing with more regulation and legislation likely soon - so it is key that agents keep their eye on the ball.

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