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Over the last 18 months the private rental sector has been under increased scrutiny as a result of new legislation and demands for transparency.
An announcement made by Housing Minister Brandon Lewis in March of this year means that private landlords will have a legal obligation to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties.
The changes will take effect in October, so here are a few top tips to help you prepare:
Every floor of a property requires a working smoke alarm and a test must be carried out at the start of every tenancy. Equally, carbon monoxide alarms will be required in any room used for living accommodation that contains a ‘solid fuel burning combustion appliance.’ Failure to meet these requirements means possible sanctions and a civil penalty of up to £5,000, as well as potentially putting your tenants at risk.
It is common knowledge that gas appliances such as boilers and cookers are sources of carbon monoxide. However, there are many potential sources of carbon monoxide including any fossil fuel appliances such as open fires, wood burners, petrol generators and improperly sited charcoal barbecues. Carbon monoxide can also leak in to your property if chimneys become blocked or corrode over time.
CE marking on an alarm means that the manufacturer meets the minimum legal requirement to sell it. A Kitemark means that the alarm has been tested by the British Standards Institution (BSI) – the manufacturer must have a quality system in place which the BSI will audit regularly. It is advisable to buy an independently tested product.
Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms must be tested weekly and cleaned monthly. It is also important to ensure that tenants are aware of how to check the alarms and that emphasis is placed on the importance of proper maintenance.
As opposed to smoke alarms, there is not the same level of common knowledge about carbon monoxide alarms and where to place them. Carbon monoxide alarms should be located in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions to work effectively. This will typically be situated on a wall, higher than doors or windows and not in the vicinity of a gas cooker.
Fire and rescue authorities are expected to provide free alarms to support private landlords in meeting their new legal obligations, so before you buy your alarms, check in with your local authority first.
“In order to meet regulations that are coming in to effect in October, private landlords need to prepare in advance to ensure that their properties are fitted with the appropriate alarms,” said a spokesperson for Discount Insurance.
“Landlords can ensure they stay on the right side of the law and fully protect their tenants by following these easy tips,” added the spokesperson.
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