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New Gas Safety Legislation

Various publications and advice services have been talking about new legislation on fire/smoke alarms and Carbon Monoxide monitors for some months, warning landlords to be ready for this in October 2015. Many landlords already provide a high level of fire safety equipment and do not need this compulsion, nor the free alarms that will be available from local fire services from October, thanks to funding from the Government.

However, some landlords will still quibble about this efficient and very cost effective way of saving lives. At a meeting this week, a landlord advised that his agent had told him that a carbon monoxide detector was only required if the method of heating was by solid fuel. Everything I had read had made reference to carbon monoxide detectors being needed in all private rented properties; this made sense as few (if any) private landlords that I know use solid fuel to heat their rented properties. I said I’d look into it.

I began by speaking to our local Environmental Services, and the senior officer I spoke to confirmed that this was the case! I wasn’t prepared to let it go at that, so did some more research and found everyone made reference to carbon monoxide detectors in all properties, but that the only specific reference was to having a carbon monoxide detector in rooms where there was a solid fuel fire.

I don’t think I am always right by any means, but could not believe that the cases I have read about, with fatalities, had only occurred in homes with solid fuel heating. I then rang who I should have rung first – the Health and Safety Executive and they were able to clarify it for me.

Although the new legislation has been publicised widely, it is in fact to be debated in the House of Commons as a Private Members Bill in October. Though the Private Members Bill does only specify carbon monoxide detectors in properties with solid fuel heating, an amendment is being added, that a carbon monoxide detector is required in all properties with a fuel burning appliance. This would include any property with a boiler, a gas fire or gas oven. The person I was speaking to felt quite confident that the amendment would not be dropped as it did not seem sensible to not include the more likely cause of carbon monoxide poisoning, which was from gas appliances. Should this Bill succeed, the only properties which would be exempt from requiring a carbon monoxide detector would be those that were heated entirely by electricity, without any gas supply or solid fuel fires or stoves.

So, I got my answer. It may currently read that it is solid fuel properties only, but by the time it is debated in Parliament, it will almost certainly apply to all properties. I will continue to press for the best practice possible from landlords and where the safety of tenants is concerned, that has to include carbon monoxide detectors, along with fire and smoke alarms, whether that is legislation or a voluntary provision by landlords.

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