News story: Government to review policy on smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

A review starting next month on the condition of homes in the private rented sector will also consider whether or not new rules are needed on installing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, ministers confirmed today (20 November 2013).

Robust rules already in place require landlords to keep homes safe and habitable for their tenants across a wide range of factors including regular gas boiler checks and high standards for quality of repairs, levels of ventilation and lighting and minimising damp. The number of house fire and injuries is also at its lowest ever level, with 88% of homes fitted with smoke alarms across the country, helped by the government’s ‘fire kills’ campaign.

A discussion paper will be published next month seeking the views of the housing sector and other interested parties on whether the system of regulation for private rented homes ensures adequate conditions and safety, or whether it could be improved or simplified, including on the technical rules and issues around installing carbon monoxide and smoke alarms.

An amendment to the Energy Bill made in the Lords yesterday will give government the enabling powers to introduce a requirement for carbon and/or smoke alarms in private rented homes, although these will only be used if supported by the review which will consider the technical issues and current overlapping regulatory regimes.

Speaking in the Lords Baroness Stowell said:

We will now take forward a wide ranging and fundamental review into property conditions in the private rented sector, considering very carefully the case for requiring landlords to install carbon monoxide alarms and/or smoke alarms in their properties. We will also engage widely with interested organisations including landlord associations, housing charities, tenant groups and professional bodies.

In addition to considering whether smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should be required in privately rented housing, the review will also look at the minimum standards tenants should expect when renting a property.

Photo courtesty of Katy Warner under creative commons copyright.

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