The Government has today (11 March) announced that it will introduce regulations to make it compulsory for private rented property to be fitted with smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors.
Currently it is not compulsory to fit these. Local authorities can assess property under the HHSRS for fire safety and require improvements. Most local authorities will take the view that fire safety requires the fitting of mains powered and battery back smoke and heat detectors. In HMOs there is a similar requirement for fire safety which is viewed in the same way. However, there is no requirement to fit a Carbon Monoxide detector other than in property heated by solid fuel boilers.
The announcement is a little surprising. It is based on the Review of Property Conditions in the Private Rented Sector, a consultation carried out in early 2014. What is a little odd is that while a number of interested organisations responded to the consultation they Government do not appear to have produced a consolidated report setting out the responses they received and their plans. Instead we are ledt to infer the responses and plans from their actions, as in this case!
It is not yet clear exactly what form the regulations will take and which properties will be covered. There are a number of powers the Government could use to make these regulations but they are being less than clear which ones they are intending to use. One option would be under s38 of the forthcoming Deregulation Bill. This allows for regulations to be made about property safety standards. Where a landlord has not complied with them they will not be able to serve a s21 notice under the Housing Act 1988. This of course limits the effect of the new requirement to ASTs only and also means that the penalty is civil rather than criminal. However, this is not the only option and it may be that a different route will be chosen. Until the draft regulations are published we will have to wait and see.
The regulations are not expected to be in force until October 2015. They may of course become a casulaty of the election but we will have to see. More than likely they will go ahead either in the form announced or something similar. Either way it seems clear that 2015 and 2016 will be a period of increasing regulation in the private rented sector.