On October 1st Parliament approved the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015. This means that it is the duty of every private landlord to ensure there is a working smoke alarm fitted on every floor of their residential properties and a CO alarm in every room that contains a solid fuel-burning device. The landlord must also check and ensure that all alarms are in working order at the start of every new tenancy.
This is good news for those living in the rental sector and will go some way to reducing the current death and injury toll caused by CO and smoke inhalation; there are currently 26 deaths and 670 injuries a year from CO. 447 000 free smoke alarms and 53 000 free CO alarms have been provided by the government to all of the fire brigades across England to help. There are penalties in place of up to £5 000 for landlords who fail to comply with these regulations.
While these new regulations are welcome there are many who feel that they do not go far enough. These regulations do not require CO alarms to be fitted in rooms with gas or oil appliances, only those using solid fuel which represents a mere 8.2% of the total rented properties. Scotland and Northern Ireland have gone further sooner with their regulations. In Northern Ireland it has been mandatory to fit a CO alarm where any oil or gas replacement combustion heating appliance is installed since 2012 and in Scotland this has been the case since 2013. It is widely thought that these further-reaching requirements should be introduced in the UK.
The charity CO-Gas Safety continues to lobby for greater regulation in this area and has asked parliament to run prime-time adverts highlighting the dangers of CO poisoning and other gas dangers along the lines of its Fire Kills campaign. It also call for more gas engineers to become competent in CMDDA1 (Carbon Monoxide/Dioxide Atmosphere and Appliance Testing) to enable them to be able to test for and record the CO levels caused by gas appliances.
It is important for all homes to have a working and audible CO alarm and possibly more importantly, have an annual gas safety check and regular servicing of appliances by a Gas Safety registered engineer.