The proposed changes to the law would require landlords to install smoke alarms on every floor of their property, and test them at the start of every tenancy.
Landlords would also need to install carbon monoxide alarms in high risk rooms – such as those where a solid fuel heating system is installed.
Those who fail to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms would face sanctions and could face up to a £5,000 civil penalty.
This would bring private rented properties into line with existing building regulations that already require newly-built homes to have hard-wired smoke alarms installed.
And it’s in line with other measures the government has taken to improve standards in the private rented sector, without wrapping the industry up in red tape.
New regulations will be laid in Parliament to require landlords to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties, and are expected to come into force, subject to Parliamentary approval, on 1 October 2015.
The allocation of funding to fire and rescue authorities to offer free smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to local landlords will be announced shortly.
The government’s Fire Kills campaign will be encouraging people to test their smoke alarms when they change their clocks to British Summer Time. The ‘Tick Tock Test’ campaign will run on radio, online and in the press from 16 to 29 March 2015.
See Fire Minister Penny Mourdant’s speech to the Local Government Association fire conference.
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Prime Minister David Cameron announced a number of proposals to be tabled in a new immigration bill which will be a central part of the new Government programme to be announced in the Queen’s speech, next week.
They include new powers for councils to crack down on unscrupulous landlords, allowing landlords to evict illegal migrants more quickly and a nationwide Right to Rent scheme.
The announcement also includes a new mandatory licensing regime and there will be a consultation on cancelling tenancies when visas expire.
‘We welcome the initiative taken by government to tackle the problem of criminals acting as private landlords to exploit illegal migrants,’ said Richard Lambert, NLA chief executive officer.
But he pointed out that it important that councils are given the necessary funding to ensure that they can enforce these powers effectively. ‘This would help drive up standards in the sector and send a powerful message to criminals. One of the fundamental reasons that a minority of criminal landlords are able to get away with providing poor living conditions is that councils do not have the resources to make use of their already significant powers,’ Lambert explained.
‘We would like to see the Treasury allow councils to keep the proceeds of the fines from prosecutions so that councils have both the powers and finances for enforcement, without going cap in hand to the Treasury,’ he added.
The NLA is also pleased that the government has given landlords the ability to deal quickly with illegal migrants and Lambert said he hopes this deters those that want to stay in the UK illegally.
‘We are, however, a little concerned regarding the Right to Rent scheme. Landlords are happy to help to check that tenants are who they claim to be. However this should not be a way for the Government to pass the buck on to landlords when tacking illegal immigration,’ Lambert said.
‘We hope, before the scheme is rolled out nationally, that the Government take the time to review how the first phase in the West Midlands has worked and draws on the lessons from that, rather than ploughing ahead regardless,’ he added.
He also said that the introduction of a new mandatory licensing regime also raises concerns. ‘We are therefore urgently seeking clarification on whether this would be new policy or related to the current licensing schemes,’ said Lambert.
Tenants safer under new government measures. Landlords will be required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties, under measures announced by Housing Minister Brandon Lewis today (11 March 2015).
The move will help prevent up to 26 deaths and 670 injuries a year.
The measure is expected to take effect from October 2015, and comes with strong support after a consultation on property condition in the private rented sector.
England’s 46 fire and rescue authorities are expected to support private landlords in their own areas to meet their new responsibilities with the provision of free alarms, with grant funding from government.
This is part of wider government moves to ensure there are sufficient measures in place to protect public safety, while at the same time avoiding regulation which would push up rents and restrict the supply of homes, limiting choice for tenants.
Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said:
In 1988 just 8% of homes had a smoke alarm installed – now it’s over 90%.
The vast majority of landlords offer a good service and have installed smoke alarms in their homes, but I’m changing the law to ensure every tenant can be given this important protection.
But with working smoke alarms providing the vital seconds needed to escape a fire, I urge all tenants to make sure they regularly test their alarms to ensure they work when it counts. Testing regularly remains the tenant’s responsibility.
Communities Minister Stephen Williams said:
We’re determined to create a bigger, better and safer private rented sector – a key part of that is to ensure the safety of tenants with fire prevention and carbon monoxide warning.
People are at least 4 times more likely to die in a fire in the home if there’s no working smoke alarm.
That’s why we are proposing changes to the law that would require landlords to install working smoke alarms in their properties so tenants can give their families and those they care about a better chance of escaping a fire.