Fran Mulhall, Regional Operations Manager at GFW Letting, North East property rental specialists, explains what the new regulations around smoke and carbon monoxide detectors mean and why agents need to act now to ensure landlords are well informed and fully compliant.

“From Thursday October 1st all landlords in England must, by law, install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in rented properties for all new and existing tenancies. The regulation states that a smoke alarm must be fitted on each floor of the property and a carbon monoxide alarm needs to be provided where there is a solid fuel burning appliance (where there is a log burning stove or open fire, for example) or face a fine of up to £5,000.

Under the new rules, landlords must also ensure adequate checks are made by or on behalf of the landlord to ensure that each alarm is in proper working order on the day the tenancy begins if it is a new tenancy or a renewal.

Of course, I am fully supportive of the new regulation but I do think the industry as a whole is under pressure to ensure every landlord is compliant despite the practical issues we face in making sure the new regulations are met.

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The government’s delay in passing this law (it was only passed in the House of Lords two weeks ago) has meant that landlords and their agents have little time to meet their new safety obligations. Indeed, industry bodies such as ARLA have called for an extension of the timeframe allowed to ensure all properties meet the new safety measures. What’s more, the new legislation has been poorly worded which has caused a lot of confusion for agents and landlords, as sections of it are rather woolly allowing for misinterpretation which might leave landlords at risk of a fine.

Agent role is vital

As an agent I know first-hand the huge job we have had in informing all landlords of the new rule change and gaining access to each and every one of our properties to install the alarms to ensure our landlords and ourselves are fully compliant. Around 445,000 smoke alarms and 40,000 carbon monoxide alarms have now been distributed by the 46 fire and rescue authorities in England in a bid to encourage agents and landlords to meet their safety obligations, highlighting the importance of ensuring all rented property meets the new guidelines.

Although I agree with calls for an extended deadline to ensure all properties are checked and meet the new regulation, in the meantime it’s vital that agents are doing all they can to inspect as many properties as they can on behalf of landlords. There’s been limited publicity around the new laws but instead of focusing our energies on the chaotic implementation, we now need to channel our efforts into making sure landlords are not caught out by a fine for not having appropriate safety measures in place. Situations like this is what sets good agents apart and highlights the important role we play in the management of properties in the private rented sector.

For more information about the points raised in this discussion, you can contact Fran Mulhall on franmulhall@gfwletting.co.uk or visit: www.gfwletting.co.uk

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