Proposals to make it mandatory for smoke alarms to be fitted in private rental accommodation are moving closer to becoming law.
Heading the proposal is former local and Government fire service minister Nick Raynsford. On May 7th this year, Mr Raynsford brought the issue to the House of Commons.
Speaking directly after Prime Ministers Questions, Raynsford’s proposal gained the backing of 245 MPs, with only 8 in opposition to the bill. This overwhelming result means that the bill will be read in the Commons again in June.
There is a chance that the proposal may become part of the law, on the provision that a Statutory Instrument is introduced. However, recent governments papers have suggested that a new law including the bill is not a priority, branding it instead a regulatory burden
Commenting before his appearance in the Commons, Raynsford suggested that it was, ‘absurd’ to call issues regarding fire safety a regulatory burden. He went on to say that, ‘it is a matter of life and death. Without a smoke alarm, you are four times more likely to die in a fire.’
Smoke alarms to be fitted in private rentals
Private tenants should already know that it is their landlord’s obligation to provide them with a gas safety certificate. Raynsford calls for smoke alarms to become another compulsory feature when moving into a property.
Figures obtained by Mr Raynsford suggest that 82% of privately rented accommodation does have a functioning smoke alarm. This figure was raised by 89% of council houses and further by 93% of housing association property having working alarms.
A number of MPs have pledged their support to the bill by speaking to newspapers. One of these MPs was Don Valley’s Caroline Flint, who spoke to the Doncaster Free Press to outline her belief that the bill would save lives.
Ms Flint brought the case of two-year-old-Libby Jayne Hornsby to the public’s attention. The little girl died in a fire in a rented property that did not have a functioning smoke alarm.
Ms Flint said, ‘the tragic accident that took away Libby-Jayne Hornsby is not an isolated incident. Years after smoke alarms have become commonplace, one in five privately rented homes still does not have a smoke alarm.’ She went on to say that the evidence was, ‘clear’ that smoke alarms saved lives and that as a result of alarms, fires can be discovered in, ‘less than five minutes.’
Another MP that spoke out to newspapers was Wentworth and Dearne’s former housing minister, John Healey. Speaking to The Star, he strongly disagreed that the bill would be a regulatory burden and was hugely supportive of the proposed changes.
Conservative MP Philip Davies however, opposes the idea. Davies believes that it is difficult for landlords to gain guaranteed access to homes. He went on to ask what would happen in terms of accountability if tampering tenants caused problems with originally working devices.
Non-domestic, commercial buildings and multi-occupancy premises are already required to have, ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessments under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.