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Around 1.6 million rental homes at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning

Almost a third of rental properties in the UK are potentially at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning, according to new research.

The study, carried out by Censuswide on behalf of Carbon Monoxide Be Alarmed!, which is a national campaign to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by carbon monoxide, found that almost a third of renters in the UK do not have a CO alarm in their property.

Given that there are around 5 million households living in private rented accommodation, a quarter of whom are families with children, that means that there are approximately 1.6 million rental homes at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning, and this is owed in part to a lack of communication.

Somewhat alarmingly, four in five private tenants surveyed said that they had never been told that it is their responsibility - and not their landlord’s - to provide a CO alarm.

Under existing regulations, landlords in England and Wales are only required to provide a CO alarm in properties with a solid fuel appliance, i.e. coal or wood burning stoves. However, in Scotland landlords are legally required to provide CO alarms in all properties.

Chris Norris, head of policy of the National Landlords Association, said: “Private landlords have a legal responsibility to provide a CO alarm if solid fuel burning appliances are installed, but landlords, tenants, and homeowners need to be aware that the risk of CO poisoning extents to all types of combustion – including natural gas.

“Although the risk is small, CO detectors are not expensive and require very little maintenance, which is why the NLA recommends landlords install an alarm in every property with solid fuel, oil, or gas installations. It is best practice and may save a life.”

The Carbon Monoxide Be Alarmed! Campaign, which is run by Energy UK, is now calling on the government to take action to extend the legislation to ensure all private tenants are protected.

Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK and CO Be Alarmed! spokesperson, said: “Our research shows private renters are still at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning with one in three not having a carbon monoxide alarm fitted at home. That is why we are calling on government to extend the legislation to protect all private renters including those with a gas appliance which is over 80 percent of homes.

“In the meantime we urge tenants to use our simple ABC checklist – Do you have an Alarm fitted? Have you tested it and are the Batteries working? Have you had an up to date gas Check?. This the only way to protect yourself and your family.”

As chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Carbon Monoxide, this is an issue that Labour MP Barry Sheerman has championed throughout his parliamentary career and is something that he insists he “feels very strongly about”.

He said: “With no smell or visible presence, the only way to detect the dangerous gas is through the installation of an audible alarm. Awareness of this easily forgotten step is vital in saving lives. We’ve made good progress, but we must continue to work to bring the number of these entirely preventable deaths down to zero.

“I value the vital work that the ‘Carbon Monoxide Be Alarmed!’ campaign is doing to achieve this goal and support the call for legislation to ensure all private tenants are protected.”

City

Percentage of renters who don’t have an alarm

Leeds

46.50%

Sheffield

39.50%

Liverpool

36.60%

Manchester

36.30%

Brighton

35.10%

Belfast

34.60%

London

33.60%

Birmingham

30.30%

Norwich

28.80%

Cardiff

26.80%

Nottingham

26.70%

Newcastle

24.60%

Southampton

24.10%

Bristol

19.60%

Edinburgh

19.00%

Glasgow

17.90%

Plymouth

17.60%

  • icon

    complete bollox from a vested-interest organization--who funds it? i cannot be arsed to look it up!

  • icon

    What about the numbers of CO2 alarms in private housing?
    Have we reached a point where the few are over regulated, but the many are OK? If it was that important, why aren't all 27m homes forced to service boilers every year, have smoke alarms and co2, or doesn't it really matter that only 4m homes should be protected?

  • Paul Barrett

    CO alarms should be compulsory in every property where there are any form of appliance that uses combustion.
    That could be a space heater in a garage or a gas boiler in any residential property.
    In 2 adjacent flats to me the CO alarms activated.
    Had they not been there there could be about 7 dead people.
    CO alarms are a thoroughly good idea.
    It seems Govt is only concerned about tenants surviving CO.
    Seems if there are any other circumstsnces then Govt is content to allow CO deaths to occur!!!
    Govt could lobby insurers to require that they require CO alarms or insurance policies are invalidated.
    That will motivate EVERYONE to have at leasy ONE CO alarm.
    There is also the hazard that CO could leak from a homeowner property to a tenanted property.
    Why should a homeowner put a tenant at risk because they refuse to have a CO alarm.

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