BREAKING NEWS – Landlords across the UK, along with their industry bodies, are up in arms about the confusion surrounding the introduction date for new legislation to make it compulsory to install smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in rented accommodation. The new regulations, which were due to be introduced before 1st Oct 2015, now have a question mark hanging over them.
Early in 2015 draft regulations were drawn up making it a requirement for private sector landlords to install at least one smoke alarm on every floor of their property from 1st October. This was to give local authorities greater powers to fine landlords who fail to adhere to the new rules of up to £5,000.
Yesterday, the House of Lords rejected the draft legislation presented by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) at its final stage, stating that landlords have not been given enough information about the changes, with the proposed introduction less than three weeks away. In addition, the Lords’ committee said the legislation was found to be poorly worded.
Some on the committee wanted the regulations, which were intended to only apply to the Private Rented Sector (PRS), extended to cover social housing and owner occupiers with lodgers, while others suggested that CO detectors be installed in all PRS properties, not just those with solid fuel appliances.
The British Property Federation, which represents landlords and is a backer of the new law, has warned that when the changes are finally approved, landlords could be left with only days to comply, leaving them liable to fines. There is no grace period in the regulations, so any landlord not compliant by the implementation date will be liable.
The government is obliged to bring the regulations back to a full sitting of the Lords, which is now likely to be next week. It is now unclear whether any changes to be made to the rules will meet the deadline, or if the introduction will be delayed.
The delay bombshell comes just days after (DCLG) issued guidance, but noting that the legislation was still before Parliament, for landlords and local authorities. But the indication was that the regulations were to be enforced from 1st October, with no ‘grace period’.
Enforcement authorities (local authorities) are required to issue a remedial notice where they have reasonable grounds to believe a landlord has not complied with one or more of the requirements.
Ian Fletcher, director of policy (real estate), British Property Federation, has said:
“We have been fully supportive of the campaign to make smoke alarms compulsory in private rented properties, and are therefore extremely disappointed to see this unnecessary delay in proceedings.
“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.
“It is particularly frustrating that one of the reasons that this revocation has happened is because the introduction is worded poorly, as there has been no consultation on this.”
Landlords Across the UK, Along with Industry Bodies, are up in Arms as Legislation Delays Cause Confusion – http://t.co/cx5zi3aXkf
— LandlordZONE® (@LandlordZONE) September 10, 2015