24 November, 2010
A Bill currently making its way through Parliament could potentially have massive implications for both the private rented market and the social housing sector. The Fire Safety (Protection of Tenants) Bill, which was due to have its second reading in the House of Commons on 19 November 2010 but has been adjourned to January 2011, in its present form would require a landlord to ensure that before a contract of tenancy is agreed, a smoke detection system is in place at the relevant property.
The Bill continues to say that every contract of tenancy agreed after the date the Act comes into force must contain an undertaking by the tenant to test all smoke alarms at the property at least once a month and to notify the landlord of any defect in any smoke alarm. There must also be an undertaking by the landlord to rectify all defects notified to them by the tenant.
A landlord failing to ensure that a smoke detection system is in place at the property before a contract of tenancy is agreed would be committing an offence and would be liable upon conviction to imprisonment, and/or a fine.
By way of a definition, section 1 of the Bill refers to a system of smoke detection as meaning at least one mains-powered smoke alarm with an integral battery stand-by supply, which complies with grade D of British Standard 5839: Part 6 (2004).
It should be noted that the Bill is still progressing through the Parliamentary process and therefore may be subject to further alterations. However, landlords should note the overall aim and purpose of the Bill and should monitor its progression through Parliament in the future to see whether their fire alarms need to be upgraded and their tenancy agreements updated.