Buy to let tenants are in danger from smoke alarms that fail to go off in an emergency, according to new research.
Although landlords must fit smoke alarms in private rented homes, most opt for cheaper battery-powered models instead of mains-powered devices.
But firefighters found that more than a third of battery-powered smoke alarms did not sound an alert when a home was on fire.
Nearly half of the failures (45%) were caused by incorrectly positioned smoke alarms, while another 20% were due to missing or incorrectly fitted batteries.
The fire service recorded 29,586 home fires in England in the year to March 31, 2019. Smoke alarms were fitted in 22,475 homes.
These homes had 7,692 battery powered smoke alarms fitted and 2,899 (38%) did not go off.
Around 14,783 homes had main-powered smoke alarms installed, with 21% failing to sound in an emergency.
“Smoke alarms are proven life-savers, but these worrying failure rates are a reminder to people to test their smoke alarms regularly and change batteries where necessary,” said Ian Stephens, chair of the Local Government Association’s fire services management committee.
“Smoke alarm ownership has risen over the years to more than 90% but this encouraging trend is being dangerously undermined if they don’t activate due to faulty batteries.
“The run-up to the festive season is a timely reminder of the importance of fire safety, but working batteries aren’t just for toys at Christmas – they are needed in smoke alarms all-year round.
“With the increased potential fire risk from Christmas trees, decorations, candles and lighting, and people spending more time using heaters, open fires, and cooking hot food during the colder winter months, anyone without a smoke alarm should buy and fit one as soon as possible. They should also check the alarms of less able family members and those on their own – it may save their life.”
Landlords should provide a working fire alarm at the start of a tenancy, with renters responsible for testing and replacing batteries in battery-powered alarms during the tenancy.