Government consultation on smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

The UK government has opened a public consultation into the strengthening of smoke and carbon monoxide regulations in England.;
Public Consultation

The UK government has opened a public consultation into the strengthening of smoke and carbon monoxide regulations in England.

Consultation

Landlords have until the 11th of January 2021 to respond to the consultation, posted on the 24th of November.

The proposed amendments would affect the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations (2015) in both the private and social rented sector.

This consultation is directly related to the tragic events of the Grenfell Tower in 2017, which shaped the social housing green paper; highlighting how some tenants felt safety concerns were not always addressed correctly.

Smoke alarms

Since 2015, private sector landlords have been required to install at least one smoke alarm on each floor containing a room used for living accommodation, and ensure that they work at the start of each tenancy.

Landlords failing to do so can currently face a local authority fine of up to £5,000.

The focus of the consultation lays on the social rented sector, bringing the requirements in line with those of the private sector.

Alongside this, there is new evidence that the placement of smoke alarms can make the world of difference which the consultation proposes to add to the documentation.

The silent killer

Carbon monoxide poisoning features heavily in the consultation. The product of incomplete combustion, carbon monoxide can be produced by faulty appliances or those which have been poorly installed and maintained.

The consultation estimates that around 20 people die from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning a year, and milder cases can cause headaches and flu-like symptoms.

The current regulations around carbon monoxide alarms were based on a report in 2010, when carbon monoxide alarms were considerably more expensive and less efficient than they are 10 years later.

Currently, regulations only require a carbon monoxide alarm in rooms that contain a solid combustion appliance such as a coal fire or wood burner.

The policy consideration that the consultation proposes involves the addition of non-solid fuel combustion appliances, such as gas boilers, to the list of those which require an accompanying carbon monoxide alarm.

The proposal also sets out that the instructions regarding the placement of these alarms need to be altered, to reflect recent research to do with the location and positioning of the alarms.

Tenants and alarms

Some in the landlord community have highlighted complications with tenants and the upkeep of alarms, with reports of missing batteries or missing alarms entirely. One solution to this is the use of sealed alarms.

Others commented that they were already checking the alarms at the beginning of each new tenancy, as part of their inventory process.

Upkeep of alarms

The consultation also proposes that landlords should be obliged to repair, or replace a faulty alarm when it is reported to them.

It is made clear that the consultation is not proposing that landlords should check alarms during the tenancy, as the monthly frequency of this means the responsibility would best lay with the tenant.

Read the open consultation and have your say on the government website.

This information should not be interpreted as financial advice. Mortgage and loan rates are subject to change.