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New rental property legislation – what you need to know

Changing battery smoke detectorLettings legislation changes constantly so landlords should make sure they stay on top of new developments to avoid risking hefty fines for non-compliance. The latest rental property legislation to be announced by the government concerns the provision of working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in rental properties.

Landlords required by law to fit smoke and carbon dioxide detectors

From October 2015, landlords will be required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in their rental properties.   The move aims to protect the public and prevent injuries and deaths caused by fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. It is part of a wider government initiative to protect public safety without increasing red tape and therefore costs. Currently there are up to 26 deaths and 670 injuries a year caused by fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.

The move brings private rented properties into line with existing building regulations that already require new-build homes to have hard-wired smoke alarms fitted.

A £5,000 penalty for non-compliance

However, from October, those failing to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms could face a £5,000 civil penalty.

The new measures:

  • Landlords will have to install smoke alarms on each floor of their property.
  • Alarms must be tested at the beginning of each tenancy.
  • Landlords will have to install carbon monoxide alarms in high risk rooms – for example, rooms where there is a solid fuel heating system.
  • Any landlord failing to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms could face a civil penalty of up to £5,000.

Ensuring tenants’ safety

People are around four times more likely to die in a fire in the home if there is no working smoke alarm and the government believes that the new measures will increase safety in the private rented sector.

Housing minister Brandon Lewis commented on the new measures: “In 1988 just 8% of homes had a smoke alarm installed – now it’s over 90%. The vast majority of landlords offer a good service and have installed smoke alarms in their homes, but I’m changing the law to ensure every tenant can be given this important protection. But with working smoke alarms providing the vital seconds needed to escape a fire, I urge all tenants to make sure they regularly test their alarms to ensure they work when it counts. Testing regularly remains the tenant’s responsibility.”

What should you do next?

You can find out more about tenants’ and landlords’ rights and responsibilities here.

If you use our property management service you needn’t worry about the new legislation. We will organise smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to be fitted in your property – if they aren’t already.   And if you’re considering using a property management service for the first time, call our dedicated property management department on 020 7319 9740 for more information or visit the property management section on our website.

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About the Author

A qualified lawyer (she studied Law with French Law) at UCL, Simran began her career working for a city firm specialising in commercial real estate, before joining Benham and Reeves in 2006. During this time, Simran has put systems in place to streamline administration, enabling the company to compete effectively with much larger organisations. As a result, the company’s property management department has grown substantially – in 2006 it managed 885 rental homes whereas today the department manages nearly 2000 properties for clients, including a growing number of overseas clients. Read more about Simran Prasad here - Read full profile

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