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ARLA calls for smoke alarm rule to be delayed

The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) has raised concerns about the new Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015.

Now passed by Parliament, the new regulations take effect on 1 October. But ARLA says this isn’t enough time for landlords and letting agents to comply.

ARLA managing director David Cox said: “Whilst ARLA is entirely supportive of the aims of the regulations, we remain concerned that the Government has ignored calls from across the private rented sector to reconsider the timeframe for its implementation.
 
“Following final scrutiny of the measures yesterday in the House of Lords, landlords have until the 1 October 2015 to ensure that all tenancies have a smoke alarm fitted on every floor of their property where there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation. They will also be required to put a carbon monoxide alarm in any room where a solid fuel is burnt.

“Whilst these measures are entirely sensible, ARLA is concerned that landlords will not have enough time to comply with the requirements, as it is simply impracticable for letting agents, who may manage a huge amounts of properties, to gain access to the properties and to install these alarms on behalf of their clients in the time frame allotted.
 
“On behalf of its members, ARLA has written to the Government on this issue to raise its concerns and suggested that all existing tenancies should be allowed to have until 1 January 2016 to comply. We were encouraged to see that Lord Marlesford showed support for our proposals in Parliament and again put our suggestion to the Government.
 
“However, despite our efforts it appears that the Government will now go ahead and implement the new requirements as planned. We urge our members to ensure that they do all they can to ensure that their properties comply with the new regulations before the measures come into effect.”

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    There needs to be communication to landlords and managing agents. There is condfusion on this rule. "In any room where a solid fuel is burnt" can mean gas hobs where there is no CO 2 emission and its erroneous to position smoke alarms above or near these, where they heat up and go off.

    Can there be an explanation sent to landlord groups and ARlA (the Gas Safe Register) what appliances are being included, how far to position a smoke alarm from the included appliance, and what is accepted as proof that these were working at the beginning of the tenancy?


  • john stones

    Whilst the act looks as if it will become law on October 1st landlords will have 28 days to react to a notice of breach. The Environmental Health departments are behind the curve too. Many we have spoken to are not yet aware of the legislation so it is unlikely that they will be knocking on your door on October 2nd. Some however are aware and already asking us about test aerosols for CO alarms and smoke alarms.

    Sensor inclusive testing of CO alarms was high on the agenda in the discussions last week in the House of Lords which we welcome after 20 years of campaigning.
    The test button on a CO alarm only tests the battery, buzzer and circuit NOT the ability to sense gas. The actual sensors have a limited and indeterminable life. 25 million CO alarms have been sold since 1996. We believe that half are no longer sensing gas. Independent reports from UK and U.S. Bodies support this. The latest report from the Journal of Environmental and Public Health found that of 23,000 CO alarms installed at Hackney Homes 26.9 % were not working two years into a seven year warrantee. Worryingly these alarms were on of the most popular in the UK. Sold on the high street and a major gas retailer. The unit was Kitemarked. We developed and patented Detectagas specifically to address this issue and have won more industry awards than any other in the gas detection field. Resistance for CO alarm manufacturers and their trade association has been fierce but the technical reality of the situation is now being realised. Providing £3.2 million to fire brigades to give away free smoke and CO alarms has added to the problem as far as CO alarms are concerned. The installed base is increasing and the level of non working CO alarms increases too. Already deaths in the USA and two weeks ago a near miss in Devon due to non working CO alarms. Even the tradgedy on Windermere where two people died in a boat is worrying. At the time this was much publicised to promote CO alarm sales. Less publicised was the publication of the Marine Investigation Board report this year which announced that the boat had two CO alarms on board. Both had been disconnected. This is typical, the alarms go into alarm mode as the sensors fail and the only way to shut them up is disarm them. They are never tested or repalced. These CO alarms were made in the USA, the boat was a USA import. I have visited the manufacturer in Chicago a few times, they called us in as they had had problems with thier alarms. They now stock Detectagas. The poor guy who lost his wife and daughter is being sued for manslaughter. I am sure it's not his fault but the fault of the non working alarms.
    So, PLEASE sensor inclusively test your CO alarms and help us push the gov to legislate before we hit a major problem. Although patented we have kept the cost low to encourage tKe up and will continue to do so. It costs less that £1.50 per test at retail (see CPC). It is already law in the USA to sensor inclusive test on installation and annually thereafter.
    John Stones, Managing Director, Gas Safe Europe



  • jeremy clarke

    What's the problem? Why on earth have any landlords even considered letting properties without a smoke detector? Common sense to me. Since we opened here in 2013, we have insisted on a smoke detector on each floor, electrical check and gas record before we would consider putting a tenant in a property. To the best of my knowledge we have never had a landlord refuse - it's not as if this just happened, it's been on the cards/agenda for a long time. IMHO if a landlord hasn't got the basics in place he deserves the full weight of the law to come down on him from a great height!

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