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Government drags feet over smoke alarm legislation

The landlord community has hit out at government for unnecessary delays in the introduction of legislation which will make it compulsory to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in private rented homes.

Draft regulations were laid earlier in the year to require private sector landlords to install at least one smoke alarm on every storey of their rental property from 1 October 2015, providing local authorities with the power to fine landlords who fail to comply £5,000.

However, the House of Lords yesterday rejected the draft legislation at is final stage on the basis that the proposed introduction is less than three weeks away, that the government has not done enough to inform landlords of the changes, and that the legislation is poorly worded.

The British Property Federation (BPF), which represents residential landlords and has supported the draft legislation, has warned that by the time the legislation is approved, landlords will be left with mere days to comply with the legislation, risking the £5,000 fine.

The BPF has issued further concerns that information about the impending change in legislation has been poorly disseminated, and that many landlords may even be unaware of the changes and the potential fines.

Ian Fletcher, director of policy (real estate) at the BPF, said: “We have been fully supportive of the campaign to make smoke alarms compulsory in private rented properties, and are therefore extremely disappointed to see this unnecessary delay in proceedings.

“The original timeframe for the legislation was tight, but allowing time for a further debate in the Lords is going to make this even worse. Coupled with the fact that there has been no publicity on the changes, we are worried that many landlords are going to be caught out by the fine as a result of government’s disorganisation and lack of clarity.

"It is particularly frustrating that one of the reasons that this revocation has happened is because the introduction is worded poorly, as there has been no consultation on this.”

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