Smoke Alarms To Become Mandatory in Rental Properties

by Adam Hosker

12:56 PM, 9th May 2014
About 6 years ago

Smoke Alarms To Become Mandatory in Rental Properties

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Smoke Alarms To Become Mandatory in Rental Properties

On the 7th May 2014 Nick Rynsfold MP for Labour proposed a bill regarding Fire Safety “The purpose of the Bill is to remedy that by making the installation of a working smoke alarm mandatory in all privately rented housing” Smoke Alarms To Become Mandatory in Rental Properties

In the proposal the Labour MP also said “By a margin, the largest proportion of unprotected homes are privately rented”.

It may not surprise you that Nick Rynsfold MP is also director of the “Fire Protection Association”, perhaps he wants another industry generated on the backs of Landlords as seen with 6 monthly gas checks, EPC Certificates and 5 Yearly Electrical Certificates? Its good business if you can force landlords to use them.

No Matter; Labours Mr Rynsfold may be a fool regarding a Landlords obligations but Labour’s Housing Minister Emma Reynolds – the MP therefore responsible for Labours rent caps proposals, long term tenancies, banning letting agent fees and other matters effecting a landlords business – should be well aware of Landlords legal requirements to fit Fire Alarms!

Unfortunately not, Emma Reynolds MP instead slags off Philip Davies MP on twitter ……

What did this evil Philip Davies MP say in order to put tenants as 2nd class citizens not in need of a safe property? Well he informed the House of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System and the legal requirement already in place and Loony Left propaganda from Emma Reynolds MP ensued.

So much electioneering! Are the Conservatives really the evil advocates for landlords that Labour make them out to be? Do Labour really think landlords are eager to have their investment burn to the ground with tenants in them and their insurance to be void? Of course not, Labour is merely protecting the poor tenants from us evil landlords unwilling to spend less than £10 at Screwfix or B&Q for an fire alarm – yeah right!

Luckily it went to a vote; we now have the names of 256 MP’s who voted for this proposal and clearly have no idea about the Private Rented Sector or Health and Safety requirements. Nevertheless, they believe they are in a position to introduce further legal requirements (over 400 already) to tell landlords how to protect our business investments and our customers!

The message is clear; parliament says you currently do not need fire alarms. Landlords know better and 256 MP’s we voted in are instead wasting tax payers money debating irrelevant matters.

Nick Rynsfold MP says that 18% of landlords do not have Fire Alarms in our properties! So come on, own up, who are you?

How can the Shadow Housing Minister with an MP and Director of “Fire Protection Association” not know about the Housing Health and Safety Rating System ( HHSRS ), never-mind the other legal requirements regarding health and safety and requirements of insurers?

Why on earth did British Property Federation and National Landlords Association (NLA) not tell Nick Rynsfold MP of these requirements?


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Comments

Paul Jemetta

13:01 PM, 9th May 2014
About 6 years ago

"How can the Shadow Housing Minister with an MP and Director of “Fire Protection Association” not know about the Housing Health and Safety Rating System ( HHSRS ), never-mind the other legal requirements regarding health and safety and requirements of insurers?"

Because he specifically and Labour in general are simply not up to the job.

Annette Stone

13:23 PM, 9th May 2014
About 6 years ago

As far as my memory serves me in 2005/6 the last Labour Government introduced something called the Fire Order which all freeholders and managing agents had to deal with. We spent a huge amount of time ensuring that all buildings were in compliance with the onerous requirements of the Fire Order; some of which were so inappropriate to most residential buildings that the Order itself was later amended and the amendments ran to something like 150 pages as I recall. The bottom line was that no one really understood this and whenever I need clarification I contacted the local Fire Officer.

In blocks of flats all the costs of these modifications were borne by lessees and a lot of fire safety firms made a lot of money out of this. The managing agent's work was increased greatly and obviously that had to be paid for

Part of the fire order dealt with the requirement for a full fire alarm in certain buildings wired into each flat and for some smaller buildings to have interlinked smoke alarms. Even communal areas of 2m x 2m were considered to require smoke alarms at the very least.

All of this was a requirement of the legislation introduced by the Labour Government with the onus on freeholders and managing agents who were dealing with buildings with communal areas. In addition all tenanted flats had to have a fire blanket and the instructions for exiting the building had to be made available to every tenant "in a language they could understand" As far as I know that remains the case so presumably every landlord who manages his own buy to lets and every letting agent has a translator for every language on tap.

Fire safety is hugely important but the issues are really simple and have all been dealt with by the revised Fire Order. What do they want to do now?

I suppose we should be grateful that the new proposals do not require all existing fire safety installations are taken out and put back sideways!!!! Alternatively, if they are not re-elected perhaps Ed Milliband could get a job inspecting property and setting rent increases and Nick Raynsford could set up a business looking for the 18% of rental properties with no fire safety!!!!

John Daley

14:19 PM, 9th May 2014
About 6 years ago

Sorry Adam but there is no mandatory requirement to fit a smoke alarm in PRS lettings. If there was I suspect Mr Raynsford would not be introducing a bill to make it mandatory. The bill passed 245 to 8 so the only possible conclusion is that this proposal had overwhelming cross bench support. Not really a Labour idea then !

HHSRS does not insist on smoke alarms and neither does the process of Risk Assessment required by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Which moved the duty for fire safety management from the fire service to the manager of the property.

If a £15 sealed unit smoke alarm with a service life of 5 years is fitted in a property it substantially reduces the risk to the lives of the occupants in the event of a fire.

I can't think why a landlord would not fit one of these. Beside the obvious moral issue and consideration for the life of the person who pays the rent, a smoke alarm is really very likely to reduce the amount of damage to the property and rental loss if there is a fire.

PRS landlords need to wake up to the fact that poor standards of safety and management in the PRS is rocketing up the agendas of all parties. DCLG are working on regulation and improving the powers of Local Authorities. The game is about to change.

All BankersAreBarstewards Smith

14:43 PM, 9th May 2014
About 6 years ago

what I would like to know is - where is the proof that the majority of properties without a smoke alarm are rented properties ....... where is the research and who conducted it.......

Annette Stone

14:49 PM, 9th May 2014
About 6 years ago

To "All Bankers" It's very clear - Nick Raynsford MP has done his research and he says 18% of landlords do not have fire alarms in their properties. You are not seriously contesting what an elected Member of Parliament is saying are you? He has very clearly done his research and has come up with this figure based on his extensive knowledge of the prs. If you are suggesting otherwise you may be guilty of a certain degree of mistrust in our elected politicians and of thinking they would do anything for a soundbite!!!! Surely not...............

All BankersAreBarstewards Smith

14:52 PM, 9th May 2014
About 6 years ago

'winks'

indeed

Adam Hosker

15:31 PM, 9th May 2014
About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "John Daley" at "09/05/2014 - 14:19":

@John Daley I do not think I am mistaken - mandatory smoke detectors are required the HHSRS regulation.

Under hazard "Fire" were it talks about risks of "exposure to an uncontrolled fire" it clearly outlines "there should be sufficient properly designed and appropriately sited smoke and/or heat detectors with alarms in every dwelling. These should be properly maintained and regularly tested."

You can read more about it in the Housing Health and Safety Rating System Operating Guidance.

Its morally wrong not to have them, it will void your insurance, environmental health officers will force you to have them, you risk massive liability and they're cheap. I have no idea why further and additional regulation is needed! But there must be some people out there without them (18% apparently of PRS).

Ohh; its a Labour proposal and some conservatives were attacked by the Shadow Housing Minister for opposing it. There were still many on all sides voting for it (I would have done) - in principle its great - in reality its done and dusted already.

Romain Garcin

15:53 PM, 9th May 2014
About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Adam Hosker" at "09/05/2014 - 15:31":

That's under "preventive measures and the ideal" in the document, and as far as I know this is not law but a guidance on best practices. ('should have' is not the same as 'must have')
As far as I know the only obligation to install fire alarms is for HMOs, properties built after 1992, and extensions built recently (1992 as well?).

As for the vote: this is politics and election time, nothing good can come to an MP who votes against a bill "to save the life of innocent people", especially a tory who would immediately be compared to dear old Alan B'stard.

It's also obviously cynical politics from Labour, who are again targeting the PRS.
If smoke alarms are so important that they want to legislate, then any obligation should apply to all residential properties.

Tony Atkins

16:12 PM, 9th May 2014
About 6 years ago

I agree with Romain: if landlords are obliged to have annual gas safety checks and five-yearly electrical checks, not install hazardous furnishings, and now install smoke alarms, why does none of this apply to residential owners? This answer seems to be "because landlords are selling a service" or "landlords have a duty of care", but it's ludicrous to link fire and fume safety to financial questions or to moral judgments: it should be a question of safety on its own terms, irrespective of a property's ownership status.

The real reason is that politicians run scared of being accused of invading people's home with "nanny state" prescriptions, whereas landlords are seen as fair game and you'll never lose votes by introducing new rules and regulations on them.

Mike W

17:49 PM, 9th May 2014
About 6 years ago

I always think these MPs are very biased. What about those poor home owners. Those poor people who are NOT privately renting. Who is looking after them? Perhaps we could complain to the EU under human rights laws?

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