Smoke and carbon monoxide alarm inventory UPDATE

Another month, another new law for landlords it would seem! As of the beginning of October 2015 landlords in England are now required by law to install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors? Properly installed and maintained smoke alarms play a pivotal role in reducing fire, death and injuries in privately rented accommodation. And the same goes for carbon monoxide alarms. With almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulting from properties that don’t have a working alarm, the chance of dying is cut in half with a working alarm.

Although I have noticed consistent news coverage on the subject, the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks are still worried that there is still confusion over who and when such smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms should be checked, as well as who does it; the landlord, agent or independent third party?

The standing legal position is that landlords in England, or agents acting on their behalf, are required to install smoke detectors on every floor of their property where a tenant is residing or partially living. Carbon Monoxide alarms must also be fitted in any room of rented accommodation where there is a solid fuel-burning appliance, e.g. gas cooker, open fire, wood burner, etc. Both must be tested at the beginning of each new tenancy, and those that don’t comply risk a fine of up to £5,000.

However the checking requirement does not apply to renewed or statutory periodic tenancies.

Patricia Barber, chair of the AIIC, announced: “As part of an inventory compilation or check in procedure at the beginning of the tenancy, an AIIC independent inventory clerk will be able to check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms for power where possible and report back any problems found.”

“This then paves the way for landlords or their property managers to carry out subsequent checks during mid-term visits.” She added: “While the majority of landlords and agents may already have some sort of procedure in place, hopefully this news will help to put some property professionals’ minds at ease, saving time and money.”

This is a life and death situation after all, as in essence you have the safety and wellbeing of your tenants firmly in your hands. One tragic story of a family dying in a house fire is one too many for us at Yellow Oak Inventories, so it’s wonderful to see the lettings industry in England embracing this long-awaited law. That being said, everyone must remain vigilant as the only test that will be carried out by our Inventory clerks and many others is a simple sound test which indicates that the battery is still working. It is still ultimately the responsibility of the landlord and agent to make sure the alarms are working properly.

Other than fire alarms, there are other possible issues that can create unrest with the landlord/tenant relationship. So how else can you do to protect yourself and your tenants against potential disputes further down the line?

  • Take your time!

Many little mistakes that have escalated beyond control have often began as a tiny, overlooked issue.

  • Communicate!

The AIIC have recently been quoted as stating that a formal tenancy deposit dispute can be diffused by something as basic as simple conversation. At Yellow Oak Inventories we wholeheartedly agree, as its basic common sense that if a tenant contacts their letting agent or landlord to discuss a disagreement, there is a much reduced chance of it heightening to them lodging a formal complaint with one of the 3 deposit protection schemes.

  • Better to be safe than sorry!

If you’re unsure about something that could be life threating, then seek help and advice!

As a landlord, at Yellow Oak Inventories we believe that your tenants’ safety should be of the utmost importance. Be sure to choose a reputable property Inventory clerk that will tested your alarms for power (if reachable), visually inspect it and report back to you if there are any issues.

Still need help? Then please contact your local inventory clerk; http://yellowoak.co.uk/contact-us/