New Smoke And Carbon Monoxide
Alarm Legislation Comes Into Force
On 1st October
On October 1st 2015 the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations are supposed to come into force meaning that landlords or their appointed lettings and property managing agents must install a smoke alarm on every floor of a rental property used for accommodation and fit Carbon Monoxide alarms in any room that contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance, and all alarms should be in good working order.
However, there are calls for this legislation to be delayed due to lack of notice and ambiguity of the actual legislation.
The introduction of the new legislation is intended to save lives, we are already aware of the dangers that a potential fire in a residential rented property can cause, however, many landlords remain oblivious to the danger posed by Carbon Monoxide.Carbon Monoxide is known as the silent killer as it invisible and has no smell and cannot be detected by smoke alarms. The deadly gas can be produced by a faulty combustion process in a heating appliance which can result in the incomplete burning of all carbon based fossil fuels, including:
- Biomass (e.g. turf or wood)
Breathing in Carbon Monoxide can be fatal and causes symptoms of sickness first which could be mistaken by tenants as though they were coming down with the Flu, long term exposure can cause significant brain damage and cause difficulties with speech, thought and reasoning.
According to the NHS website approximately 50 people are killed and a further 200 suffer serious injuries each year due to accidental Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning. Symptoms may include the following:
- Chest pain.
- Memory loss.
- Lack of co-ordination
The UK Government have previously claimed that 90% of UK rental properties and private residential homes already have smoke alarms installed, but landlords might be less clear about their responsibilities when it comes to carbon monoxide alarms and organising annual gas safety checks (CP12’s). One thing that is clear to many landlords is the hefty financial penalty for non-compliance – A fine of up to £5,000 (GBP).
The Gas Safe Register recommend the use of an audible Carbon Monoxide alarm that carries the British Standards’ Kitemark or other European approval organisation’s registered mark on it, so long as it complies to the EN 50291 standard.
CO alarms usually have a battery life of up to 5 years and according to Gas Safe they should be fitted in each room with a gas appliance, although the new legislation only covers solid fuel burning appliances at present.
The vast majority of Carbon Monoxide poisoning cases are preventable. The main causes of carbon monoxide poisoning are:
- faulty central heating systems
- faulty gas appliances
- blocked chimneys
All of these need to be regularly inspected and maintained to a safe standard. If you are the property owner, it is your responsibility to ensure safety compliance because failure to comply with legislation requirements could put tenant’s lives at risk.
It is recommended that landlords do the following:
- Get an EN 50291 compliant Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarm that makes a noise, not a flashing light that you may not notice.
(85% of UK properties do not have them).
- You need one in every room that has any carbon burning appliance.
(Not in the hallway).
- Place it on the ceiling, between 1 and 3 metres from the appliance, horizontally, and a minimum of 30cm away from walls, light fittings or other ceiling obstruction.
- Wall mounted CO alarms should also be between 1 and 3 metres from the appliance, horizontally. It should also be 15cm vertically below ceiling height, but above the topmost height of the windows and doors.
Don’t Do This:
- Don’t put a Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarm in an airing cupboard or any other enclosed space.
- Don’t put any CO alarms behind an opening door, behind the curtains, or where the air around it can be obstructed.
- Don’t put a CO alarm directly above the bath or the bathroom or kitchen sink.
- Don’t put a CO alarm next to any moving airflow: a doorway, next to a window, or near a vent or extractor fan.
- Don’t put a CO alarm anywhere that the temperature may go above 40 Degrees, (next to the oven?) or where it may drop below 5 degrees. (next to an air conditioning unit, or unheated garage)
- Don’t put a CO alarm close to any cooking appliance; a steaming kettle, toaster, or hob with boiling saucepans.
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