As landlords and letting agents are now required by law to fit and test carbon monoxide alarms in rental properties, they should be aware that pressing the test button does not adequately test them.
The law – which came into force on 1st October – states that landlords or their agents must test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms at the start of each new tenancy.
However, an expert has warned that the test button on carbon monoxide alarms is not sufficient in ensuring the alarm works; it tests the circuit but does not check whether the sensor is functioning.
Letting agents that conduct the checks on behalf of landlords could leave landlords exposed to prosecution if they do not make sure that the alarms are working properly.
John Stones, the Managing Director of Gas Safe Europe, says: “Simply pressing the so-called test button only tests the battery, buzzer and circuit, yet the sensor is the component most likely to fail.”
He explains that testing can only be done by injecting test gas, such as Detectagas, over the alarm.
You should also be aware that carbon monoxide alarm sensors have very short life spans.
From 1st October, private landlords have been legally required to install smoke alarms on each floor of their rental property and carbon monoxide alarms in rooms with solid fuel burning appliances. This rule applies to new and existing tenancies, but the law is only enforced in England.
However, some believe that the laws do not go far enough. Some argue that carbon monoxide alarms should be required where there are gas boilers.
In Northern Ireland, all new homes must have carbon monoxide alarms, whether the property is rental or owner-occupier, and whenever a boiler or solid fuel stove is upgraded.
Recently, a mother was interviewed on Radio 4’s You and Yours programme, urging the law to cover all homes, both old and new, and rental or owner-occupier.
Stacey Rodgers lost her only child, Dominic, to carbon monoxide poisoning in February 2004, when he was just ten-years-old.
He died after a neighbour’s faulty boiler leaked the gas through the brickwork into his bedroom.
Since, Stacey has become a campaigner, raising awareness of the dangers.
On the show she asked: “Your own property might be okay, but what about the home next door?”
Scotland is set to have its own legislation created in December, and in Wales, alarms are recommended but not compulsory.
Unfortunately, it often takes a tragedy before anything is done to solve the issue.
Landlords can keep up to date with all of the latest news and updates over on LandlordNews.co.uk.