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Letting Property Safety Amendment

New letting property safety legislation is coming into effect from 1st October. The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations Act 2015 means that landlords and letting agents must install and check smoke and CO alarms in residential letting property.

Letting agents and landlords in Cambridge must ensure the alarms are installed and in “proper working order” on the first day of each new tenancy.

John Stones, managing director of Gas Safe Europe, says that while checking and testing a smoke alarm is relatively straightforward, there is less understanding among letting agents on how properly to test a CO alarm.

The test button on a CO alarm only tests that the battery, buzzer and electronics are working. It does not test the CO gas sensor itself.

Stones points out that in the USA testing the sensor is already a standard annual requirement. He goes on to say that that is the best way to ensure that a CO alarm is fully working. He has developed his own test method called Detectagas and says the life expectancy of the CO sensor in the alarm is limited. He points out that “they age naturally, but can also be unpredictable due to airborne pollutants such as cooking fumes and cigarette smoke.”

He also claims that reports from the UK and the USA have found CO alarm reliability lacking, with around 45% found to be no longer sensing gas when tested. This includes tests from the Health and Safety Executive.

One of these reports allegedly found that 16% of new CO alarms did not work from new.

Stones said: “We are now working with BSI to develop a British Standard (PAS) for the sensor inclusive testing of domestic CO alarms. It will take some time but in the meantime the Energy Act 2015 is clear.”

Victor Jameson of Cambridge Letting Agents New View Residential commented: “It is great to see any new legislation promoting safety in letting property. A recent ARLA training event suggested that CO detectors would only be applicable for solid fuel appliances such as coal fires and wood burners.

“Many letting agents in Cambridge, as well as Gas Safe engineers, are taking a belt and braces approach by also fitting CO detectors in areas with Gas Boilers.

“The legislation on smoke detectors is also a little unclear. It requires smoke detectors to be fitted on each floor of a letting property that the tenant can access. We wait to see some clarification on loft space, which, although not a living area, is a floor in a letting property to which tenants often have access.”

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