Survey finds too many tenants still without smoke and CO alarms

The Chief Fire Officers Association is concerned that some of the UKs most at risk households continue to lack smoke and CO alarms, despite a new law passed in October that requires landlords to fit them.

A survey carried out by SpareRoom.co.uk, one of the UKs biggest flat and house share websites, found that a significant number of their users didn’t have working alarms. One in seven (15%) tenants surveyed since 1 October say they still don’t have smoke alarms at all, while 16% do have alarms but don’t know if they work. 7% of tenants also reported removing the battery from their smoke alarms for various reasons, rendering it useless and placing themselves and their housemates at risk.

A separate poll of landlords from the site found half (49%) were unaware of the change in the regulations at all. CFOA is working with the Government to inform Landlords of their responsibilities, but tenants can also inform their landlords of the need to fit alarms.

Home Safety Lead Mark Cashin said “These are worrying findings and we would hope that as the new legislation beds in more landlords and tenants will make sure that their homes are safe. Ignorance is no excuse; landlords should be aware of their responsibilities.”

“Our statistics show that rented properties, flat shares and Houses of Multiple Occupation are some of the most at risk properties from fire and CO poisoning. Tenants who don’t have working smoke alarms or CO alarms should contact their landlord and insist that they be fitted. It’s the law.”

Higher Risk

The law requires that a smoke alarm is fitted on every storey of a property, and that a CO alarm is fitted in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance. It is the duty of Landlords to ensure these are fitted and to test them at the beginning of every new tenancy. Houses of Multiple Occupation are required by law to have hard-wired smoke alarms. According to the government’s English Housing Survey 2013/2014, privately rented accommodation is more likely to have a higher risk of fire, and yet least likely to have working smoke alarms. Flats are at higher risk from fire, as are homes with five or more occupants.

CFOA recommends that landlords fit 10-year non-replaceable smoke alarms, which can’t have their batteries removed. If you are concerned that your rented property should have alarms, you can contact their local council or their local fire service for advice and support; your local service may be able to provide free alarms. Visit the CFOA website to find your local fire service, and visit the FireKills website for advice on how to make your home safer from fire.

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