Lettings agents have until January 11 to respond to the latest consultation proposal stiffening health and safety in the private rental sector.
The consultation concerns amending the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015; while many of the changes are to strengthen safety in the social housing sector, some of the proposals impact letting agents and private landlords too.
The suggestion is that landlords or agents acting on their behalf not only fit an alarm into any room that has a fixed combustion appliance, such as a gas boiler or wood burner, but also ensure it is in proper working order on the first day of every new tenancy, and repair or replace alarms reported as having problems during the tenancy.
Since the last change to this area, in 2015, it’s been compulsory for agents and landlords in England to ensure there is a carbon monoxide alarm in any room that contains a solid fuel burning appliance, such as a coal fire or wood burning stove.
The consultation document is also heavy with research based on the effectiveness of the existing legislation.
For example, it’s been revealed that of those who had a smoke alarm installed at the time of a fire, some 49 per cent of households reported that the alarm did not go off at the time of the incident. Of these, just under a quarter report that the fire was too far away from the smoke alarm.
One element of the new proposals says: “We are proposing that both private and social sector landlords be obliged to repair or replace a faulty alarm during the tenancy, where a fault is reported to them. Whilst we are not proposing proactive checking of alarms during the tenancy by the landlord, we do think it is right that landlords should replace faulty alarms, particularly in the social rented sector where tenancies run for an average of 12 years whilst a smoke alarm has an average lifespan of 10 years.”
Elsewhere the consultation proposal says: “We plan to commence requirements as soon as practicable following the laying of regulations. Delaying implementation could put lives at risk. However, a phased implementation could help landlords manage the additional costs by, for example, installing an alarm when they next visit the property, during a tenancy or gas safety check, rather than having to make an extra visit. As part of this consultation, we are seeking evidence of the necessity of a phased implementation approach.”
Agents can see the consultation document here.