£500 million cost for buy to let fire safety is ‘too much’

£500 million cost for buy to let fire safety is ‘too much’

14:24 PM, 26th November 2010, About 13 years ago 2

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A proposed new law requiring buy to let landlords to provide a wired-in fire alarm in their rental property has failed to gain support in parliament due to fears over cost.

Liberal Democrat MP Adrian Sanders claimed his private members bill would save lives and prevent injuries in fires every year.

Fire minister Bob Neill spoke out against the change and the bill having no real chance of passing in to law claiming the costs of implementation were too high at an estimated £540 million to £1.2 billion.

The latest annual fire casualty figures show 222 out of 331 people died in homes with no working smoke alarms.

The fire safety bill was aimed at making landlords provide a certified fire detection system in every buy to let property in a similar scheme to how gas and electrical appliances are certified.

Fire safety scheme for landlords is unenforceable

Mr Neill told the debate in the House of Commons that the government opposed the changes due to concerns over cost and enforcement.

“It’s not just a question of regulation. It’s also true that in any piece of legislation where you impose an obligation and a duty it is very important that the obligation and the duty, particularly if backed up with a criminal sanction … it’s very important that it be properly and practically enforceable,” he said.

“I do have concerns about whether the proposals in this bill would in fact be practically enforceable.”

Qualified fitters and engineers carry out gas and electrical certification – but no such body exists for fire detection equipment maintenance and certification.

Regulation is unfair to private landlords

Because Mr Neill talked through the bill’s allotted parliamentary time, the proposal returns in to the list of private member’s bills seeking approval and is unlikely to go back in front of MPs.

The main impact of the law change would affect buy to let properties let on assured shorthold tenancy agreements. Houses in multiple occupation or HMO’s already have strict fire safety rules.

The impact would also seem unfair on private residential landlords as social housing landlords would not have to upgrade their housing stock to meet any changed legislation.

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16:36 PM, 30th November 2010, About 13 years ago

Good idea in principle but it should obviously apply to ALL rented accomodation, not just Buy to let private landlords. As to enforcement it would be possible to have the system checked as part of the EPC inspection or indeed by letting agents, prior to accepting properties onto their books.

17:03 PM, 30th November 2010, About 13 years ago

Thanks for commenting. It will be interesting to see what other landlords think.

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