Landlords will have to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in all private rented homes under a new law proposed by Housing Minister Brandon Lewis.
He will put the new regulations before Parliament within weeks – and they are expected to become law from October 10, 2015.
In brief, the details are:
- All private rented homes in England are covered by the new law
- The homes must have a working smoke alarm on every floor and a carbon monoxide alarm in “high risk rooms” such as any room with a solid fuel heater
- All alarms must be tested to make sure they work at the start of every tenancy
- Landlords could face sanctions or fines of up to £5,000 for ignoring the rules
- Local fire services will offer to fit free or subsidised alarms and the minister will make another announcement shortly when funding is in place for the scheme
- Tenants are responsible for regularly testing the alarm while they live at a rented home
The minister explained tenants are four times more likely to die in a fire at a home without a working smoke detector.
The move is prompted to save lives – 36 people die and 1,375 are injured every year in fires at homes with no smoke or carbon monoxide alarms.
New-build homes should already meet the new rules under current building regulations.
The main targets for the safety measure are older buy to let houses, flats and small houses in multiple occupation (HMO) that do not need a licence.
Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said: “In 1988, just 8% of homes had a smoke alarm installed – now it’s over 90%.The vast majority of landlords offer a good service and have installed smoke alarms in their homes, but I’m changing the law to ensure every tenant is given this important protection.
“Working smoke alarms provide vital seconds needed to escape a fire. I urge all tenants to make sure they regularly test their alarms to ensure they work when it counts. Testing regularly remains the tenant’s responsibility.”
The law change follows a four year campaign by Torbay MP Adrian Sanders after the deaths of two children in a fire at private rented home in Torquay, Devon, in 2009.