85% Of Landlords Unaware Of Law Change Say Agents
By October 2015, landlords of non-HMO properties will be required to supply and fit (as a minimum) battery operated smoke alarms within each landing/escape route of rental property.
Owners of HMO's are already required to provide adequate fire precautions.
New Fire & Safety Regs For Landlords
Regulations already state that properties constructed after June 1992 should have a mains powered smoke alarm system installed and interconnected where necessary. Therefore, many landlords may find that they are already adhering to BS5839 - 1: 2013 and therefore no further action would be required, other than making sure the current installations are fully functional.
For buildings built before 1992 there were no building regulations with regards to this kind of fire safety provision, which means there are many thousands of tenants at risk.
The government has now made the final step legislating the requirements but have yet to set detailed guidance for landlords and housing associations.
Along with the requirement of smoke alarms, the government have stated that all properties with a solid fuel system must have a carbon monoxide detector installed in every high risk area of potential carbon monoxide poisoning.
The current guidance regarding carbon monoxide detectors is still a little thin and there is still a lot of debate on the best positioning of them. Some brands have detectors that are portable and would be located on a shelf, whilst others specify that they should be fitted to ceilings or walls. Landlords and installers alike eagerly await final guidance to ensure the best possible solutions are found.
Testing And Installation
It is recommend that these devices are installed and tested in line with the manufacturers recommendations.
All devices should be tested on installation and then the responsibility would be passed to the tenant giving due consideration to the ability and mobility of tenants to carry out these test.
Full inspections and testing should be carried out before a new tenancy starts and it should not be taken for granted that detectors are left in good working order by the departing tenants.
What Should Landlords Do To Avoid the £5000 Fine For Non Compliance?
Fit battery smoke alarms to each landing of your properties.
Buy CO and smoke alarms with good long life batteries, min 5 years.
Have a clause written into your tenancy agreement that states the tenants agree to the recommended testing procedures of the alarms and that they acknowledge the alarms were fully operational at the start of the tenancy.
Make sure you have documentation of devices installed and any testing that has been carried out, either by you or a contractor.
Remember with the introduction of this legislation, it could be that your insurance could become void if you have not complied to the new regs.
The government have made funds available to allow for 500 000 smoke alarms and 52000 carbon monoxide alarms to be given away for free. Alarms can be obtained for free from your local fire station subject to application and availability.
With thanks to Eddy Dewey, Fire and Safety Specialist for information used within this article.
Further information and quotations available from The Fire Guy Ltd.