Disagreement over law to put smoke alarms into rented homes

A House of Lords committee has vetoed draft legislation aimed at requiring England’s landlords to install smoke alarms in private rental homes, just weeks before it was due to come into force.

The House of Lords grand committee was expected to rubber stamp the new smoke and carbon monoxide regulations, which are set to come into effect on 1 October. The draft legislation would make it compulsory for private landlords to install at least one smoke alarm on every storey of their property, and carbon monoxide detectors in rooms with solid fuel appliances. Under the legislation local authorities would have power to find landlords £5,000 for non-compliance.

But the committee rejected the draft law, taking issue with the wording of the regulations and the government’s failure to alert landlords of the proposed changes. The decision means the government will have to put the draft regulations before a full sitting of the Lords, which is expected to take place next week.

The British Property Federation, which represents residential landlords and has supported the draft legislation, has warned that by the time the legislation is approved, landlords will be left with days to comply.

Ian Fletcher, director of policy (real estate), British Property Federation, said: “The original timeframe for the legislation was tight, but allowing time for a further debate in the Lords is going to make this even worse. Coupled with the fact that there has been no publicity on the changes, we are worried that many landlords are going to be caught out by the fine as a result of government’s disorganisation and lack of clarity.”

The government issued a guide for landlords and tenants in advance of the Lords decision – available here.

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